Elizabeth K. Herr, Angela J. Murrin, Troy D. Reisner, Jeanne Paula Escalante Sering


Presentation: 9:00-10:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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Listeria monocytogenes is a food borne pathogen that causes serious infection, especially in immunocompromised, elderly, and infant populations. The gram-positive facultative anaerobe is exposed to many different conditions during its path of infection, and studying its ability to survive in these conditions can be helpful in learning how to prevent its spread. Anaerobic propionate exposure is frequent during Listeria transmission and infection but little is known about the ways in which Listeria fitness is impacted. To investigate Listeria fitness, we first measured cell morphology by comparing cell length to width ratio between bacteria grown with or without propionate. To further look into cell wall homeostasis, we also tested lysozyme susceptibility, peptidoglycan synthesis, and cell surface charge. We found that exposure to propionate changes the length to width ratio of Listeria cells in both anaerobic and aerobic conditions. Further research discovered that propionate exposure protects Listeria from degradation by lysozyme under anaerobic but not aerobic conditions. Tests for peptidoglycan synthesis and cell surface charge can provide further insight into reasons for the change in cell morphology. Overall, the impact of anaerobic propionate exposure on Listeria indicates changes in its cell wall but further research is necessary to understand the full implications.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Yvonne Y. Sun

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Practical Wisdom; Scholarship

Exploring the effects of anaerobic propionate exposure on the cell wall of Listeria monocytogenes