Conventional serotyping has traditionally been used to subtype Listeria monocytogenes, but has several limitations, including low discriminatory power and poor reproducibility. Molecular serotyping methods have been developed for L. monocytogenes, but generally show limited discriminatory power and high misclassification rates. We selected 157 Listeria isolates to evaluate a combination of a previously described multiplex PCR assay and sigB allelic typing as an alternative molecular serotyping and subtyping strategy for L. monocytogenes. While the multiplex PCR assay differentiated five L. monocytogenes subtypes (Simpson's Index of Discrimination [SID] = 0.78), including classification of the most common disease-associated serotypes (1/2a, 1/2b, 1/2c, and lineage I 4b) into four distinct groups, it misclassified 3.8% of the isolates studied here. sigB allelic typing differentiated 29 subtypes (SID = 0.87) and also allowed identification of lineage III L. monocytogenes, which could not be differentiated from the other Listeria spp. by the multiplex PCR assay. sigB allelic typing failed to differentiate serotype 1/2c and 1/2a isolates and one sigB allelic type included serotype 4b and 1/2b isolates. A molecular serotyping approach that combines multiplex PCR and sigB sequence data showed increased discriminatory power (SID = 0.91) over either method alone as well as conventional serotyping (SID = 0.87) and classifies the four major serotypes (i.e., 1/2a, 1/2b, 1/2c, and 4b) into unique subgroups with a lower misclassification rate as compared to the multiplex PCR assay. This combined approach also differentiates lineage I serotype 4b isolates from the genetically distinct serotype 4b isolates classified into lineage III.
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Molecular subtyping