Hot topic: Antilisterial activity by endolysin PlyP100 in fresh cheese

Maxwell L. Van Tassell, Luis A. Ibarra-Sánchez, Garrett P. Hoepker, Michael J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our objective was to assess the antimicrobial efficacy of a Listeria bacteriophage endolysin that may address limitations of current antilisterial processes for fresh cheeses. Listeria monocytogenes is highly problematic in the manufacture and processing of ready-to-eat foods due to its environmental persistence and its ability to grow under refrigerated storage. Special care must be taken to prevent listerial contamination during the production of fresh cheeses, as their delicate flavor and texture are incompatible with many of the antimicrobial processes and additives commonly used for other foods. Bacteriophage-derived cell wall hydrolytic enzymes, known as endolysins, comprise one possible intervention that may not suffer from the high strain specificity of their parent bacteriophages or the development of resistant strains. We recombinantly expressed endolysin PlyP100 and compared its lytic activity in vitro across several environmental parameters and target organisms, then incorporated it into a fresh cheese model challenged with a cocktail of L. monocytogenes. We show that PlyP100 demonstrates optimal activity under pH and salt concentrations consistent with a low-acid food matrix such as fresh cheese. Furthermore, we show that PlyP100 exhibits target specificity for gram-positive organisms with directly crosslinked peptidoglycan and displays considerable inhibitory activity against L. monocytogenes in fresh cheese for at least 4 wk under refrigerated storage. As PlyP100 demonstrates considerable promise for preventing the propagation of L. monocytogenes in fresh cheeses, this novel preservation method could help safeguard consumer health and the market expansion of an otherwise high-risk food with few other viable preservatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2482-2487
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Listeria
  • antimicrobial
  • cheese
  • endolysin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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