Sep. 1, 2006 - Aug. 31, 2009Award Number
Center for Produce SafetyAmount Awarded
Thomas Montville, Ph.D.
Listeria monocytogenes kills over 500 people per year and is the leading bacterial cause of food recalls. It is especially dangerous to pregnant women, the immunocompromised. These bacteria grow or survive in harsh environments, making it difficult to control in ready-to-eat meats. This unique ability must be related to energy generation and conservation. However, little is known about how L. monocytogenes regulates its two major energy stores. This project examines how L. monocytogenes energy regulation (bioenergetics) controls its ability to grow under adverse conditions. We hypothesize that the ability of L. monocytogenes to balances its two energy currencies plays a critical role in response to adverse conditions. This is demonstrated by elucidating the physiological mechanisms by which L. monocytogenes regulates its energy interconverting enzyme: and genetically characterizing the role of this F0F1ATPase enzyme. This research identifies new targets for L. monocytogenes control and addresses a fundamental factor (i.e. bioenergetics) that influences colonization, multiplication, and the types of treatment/antimicrobials necessary to reduce listerial cell numbers. This foundational understanding of listerial biology provides a platform from which to develop new intervention strategies.