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Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2009 Oct 15;73(2):237-43. doi: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2009.05.027. Epub 2009 Jun 6.

A correlation between the virulence and the adhesion of Listeria monocytogenes to silicon nitride: an atomic force microscopy study.

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Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-2710, United States.


Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular Gram-positive bacterium that is widely distributed in the environment. Despite being pathogenic at the species level, L. monocytogenes in fact comprises a diversity of strains from pathogenic ones that can result in disease and/or mortality to others that are relatively avirulent. The main goal of the current study was to answer the question on whether enhanced binding or attachment of L. monocytogenes to inert surfaces bears any relationship to pathogenicity in food-borne isolates. To answer this question, the nanoscale adhesion forces of eight L. monocytogenes strains that vary in their pathogenicity levels to a model surface of silicon nitride were quantified using atomic force microscopy. The strains used were the highly pathogenic (EGDe, 874, 1002, ATCC 19115), the intermediate pathogenic (ATCC 19112, ATCC 19118), and the non pathogenic (ATCC 15313 and HCC25). Our results indicate that the average nanoscale adhesion (in nN) and the 50% lethal dose (LD50) of strain virulence quantified in mice are logarithmically correlated according to: (nN)=-0.032ln(LD50)+1.040, r(2)=0.96. Such correlation indicates that nanoscale adhesion could potentially be used as a design criterion to distinguish between virulent and avirulent L. monocytogenes strains. Finally, stronger adhesion of virulent strains to inert surfaces modeled by silicon nitride might be a way for pathogenic strains to survive better in the environment and thus increase their likelihood of infecting animals or humans.

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