Research – 10-Year Molecular Surveillance of Listeria monocytogenes Using Whole-Genome Sequencing in Shanghai, China, 2009–2019

Frontiers in Microbiology

Listeria monocytogenes is an etiologic agent of listeriosis, and has emerged as an important foodborne pathogen worldwide. In this study, the molecular characteristics of 155 L. monocytogenes isolates from seven food groups in Shanghai, the biggest city in China, were identified using whole-genome sequencing (WGS). Most L. monocytogenes isolates (79.3%) were obtained between May and October from 2009 to 2019. The serogroups and clonal complexes (CCs) of L. monocytogenes were found useful for identifying potential health risks linked to foods. Differences in distributions of serogroups and CCs among different food groups were analyzed using t-test. The results showed that the IIa and IVb serogroups were identified among most of food groups. However, the prevalence of serogroup IIb was significantly higher in ready-to-eat (RTE) food and raw seafood than in other food groups, similar to group IIc in raw meat and raw poultry than others. Meanwhile, the prevalence of CC9 in raw meat and raw poultry, CC8 in raw poultry, and CC87 in raw seafood significantly exceeded that of in other food groups. Specially, CC87 was the predominant CC in foodborne and clinical isolates in China, indicating that raw seafood may induce a high-risk to food safety. Also, hypervirulence pathogenicity islands LIPI-3 and LIPI-4 were found in CC3, CC1, and CC87, respectively. The clonal group CC619 carried LIPI-3 and LIPI-4, as previously reported in China. Core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST) analysis suggested that CC87 isolates from the same food groups in different years had no allelic differences, indicating that L. monocytogenes could persist over years. These 10-year results in Shanghai underscore the significance of molecular epidemiological surveillance of L. monocytogenes in foodborne products in assessing the potential risk of this pathogen, and further address food safety issues in China.

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