The pathogenic bacterium Listeria monocytogenes causes the severe disease listeriosis, which is associated with high mortality rates of approximately 20%. With foodborne contamination the key route of transmission, controlling L. monocytogenes in food production environments (FPEs) is critical to maintaining public health.
Persistence of certain strains of L. monocytogenes has been observed in many different FPEs, with resident strains repeatedly isolated over many years in some cases. This presents a significant challenge to the food industry as these persistent strains are at higher risk for contaminating food produced. However little is known of the genetic basis for this phenomenon. Previous work by us and others have identified increased resistance to sanitisers among persistent strains, in particular to quaternary ammonium compounds.
This project will include phenotypic and genotypic characterisation of a bank of persistent L. monocytogenes strains isolated from various different FPEs. Draft whole genome assemblies will be interrogated for genetic markers associated with the persistent phenotype, and the population structure will be studied using whole genome multi-locus sequence typing analysis.
Isolates will be examined for mobile genetic elements which may contain stress resistance markers, and whether co-selection for multiple resistance determinants may be occurring.
Taken together, this project will help optimise control strategies targeting L. monocytogenes control in FPEs which may be adopted by industry as part of their environmental monitoring and control programs.
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please note: Applications should include a covering letter that includes a short summary (500 words max.) of a relevant piece of research that you have previously completed. Applications that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF18/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 1st July 2019 for October 2019 start, or 1st December 2018 for March 2019 start
Start Date: October or March
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers
‘A comparative study of the susceptibility of Listeria species to sanitiser treatments, when grown in planktonic and biofilm conditions’. Luque-Sastre, Fox, Jordan, Fanning. ‘Journal of Food Protection’, In Press.
‘Novel biocontrol methods for Listeria monocytogenes biofilms in food production facilities’. Gray, Chandry, Kaur, Kocharuncitt, Bowman, Fox. ‘Frontiers in Microbiology’, April 2018, 9:Article 605.
‘Whole genome sequence analysis; an improved technology that identifies underlying genotypic differences between closely related Listeria monocytogenes strains’. Fox, Casey, Jordan, Coffey, Gahan, McAuliffe. ‘Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies’, November 2017, 44:89-96.
‘Comparative genomics of the Listeria monocytogenes ST204 subgroup’. Fox, Allnutt, Bradbury, Fanning, Chandry. ‘Frontiers in Microbiology’, December 2016, 7:Article 2057.
‘Control of Listeria species food safety at a poultry food production facility’. Fox, Wall, Fanning. ‘Food Microbiology’, October 2015, 51:81-86.
‘Transcriptome analysis of Listeria monocytogenes exposed to biocide stress reveals a multi-system response involving cell wall synthesis, sugar uptake, and motility’. Casey, Fox, Schmitz-Esser, Coffey, McAuliffe, Jordan. ‘Frontiers in Microbiology’, February 2014, 5:Article 68.
‘Physiological and transcriptional characterisation of persistent and non-persistent Listeria monocytogenes isolates’. Fox, Leonard, Jordan. ‘Applied and Environmental Microbiology’, September 2011, 77(18):6559-6569