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Listeriaphages and coagulin C23 act synergistically to kill Listeria monocytogenes in milk under refrigeration conditions

Abstract

Bacteriophages and bacteriocins are promising biocontrol tools in food. In this work, two Listeria bacteriophages, FWLLm1 and FWLLm3, were assessed in combination with the bacteriocin coagulin C23 to inhibit Listeria monocytogenes. Preliminary results under laboratory conditions demonstrated that both antimicrobials act synergistically when they were applied in suboptimal concentrations. The combined approach was further assessed in milk contaminated with 5 × 104 CFU/ml L. monocytogenes 2000/47 and stored at 4 °C for 10 days. When used alone, phage FWLLm1 added at 5 × 106 PFU/ml, FWLLm3 at 5 × 105 PFU/ml and coagulin C23 at 584 AU/ml kept L. monocytogenes 2000/47 counts lower than the untreated control throughout storage. However, when used in combination, inhibition was enhanced and in the presence of FWLLm1 and coagulin C23, L. monocytogenes 2000/47 counts were under the detection limits (less than 10 CFU/ml) from day 4 until the end of the experiment. Resistant mutants towards phages and coagulin C23 could be obtained, but cross-resistance was not detected. Mutants resistant to FWLLm3 and coagulin C23 were also recovered from surviving colonies after cold storage in milk which may explain the failure of this combination to inhibit L. monocytogenes. Remarkably, the fraction of resistant mutants isolated from the combined treatment was lower than that from each antimicrobial alone, suggesting that synergy between bacteriocins and phages could be due to a lower rate of resistance development and the absence of cross-resistance.

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