Ruminants are a well-known reservoir for Listeria monocytogenes. In addition to asymptomatic carriage of the pathogen, ruminants can also acquire listeriosis and develop clinical manifestations in the form of neurologic or fetal infections, similar to those occurring in humans. Genomic characterization of ruminant listeriosis cases in Europe have identified lineage 1 and 2 strains associated with infection, as well as clonal complexes (CCs) that are commonly isolated from human cases of listeriosis; however, there is little information on the diversity of L. monocytogenes from ruminant listeriosis in the United States. In this study, we characterized and compared 73 L. monocytogenes isolates from ruminant listeriosis cases from the Midwest and the Upper Great Plains collected from 2015 to 2020. Using whole-genome sequence data, we classified the isolates and identified key virulence factors, stress-associated genes, and mobile genetic elements within our data set. Our isolates belonged to three different lineages: 31% to lineage 1, 53% to lineage 2, and 15% to lineage 3. Lineage 1 and 3 isolates were associated with neurologic infections, while lineage 2 showed a greater frequency of fetal infections. Additionally, the presence of mobile elements, virulence-associated genes, and stress and antimicrobial resistance genes was evaluated. These genetic elements are responsible for most of the subgroup-specific features and may play a key role in the spread of hypervirulent clones, including the spread of hypervirulent CC1 clone commonly associated with disease in humans, and may explain the increased frequency of certain clones in the area.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Immunology and Microbiology
- Microbiology (medical)
- Cell Biology
- Infectious Diseases