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Performance and resistance of Listeria monocytogenes wild type and multiple stress resistant variants in mixed culture biofilms with Lactobacillus plantarum

Population diversity and the ability to adapt to changing environments allow Listeria monocytogenes to grow and survive under a wide range of environmental conditions. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the performance of a set of acid resistant L. monocytogenes variants in mixed-species biofilms with Lactobacillus plantarum as well as their benzalkonium chloride (BAC) resistance in these biofilms. L. monocytogenes LO28 wild type and acid resistant variants were capable of forming mixed biofilms with L. plantarum at 20°C and 30°C in BHI supplemented with manganese and glucose. Homolactic fermentation of glucose by L. plantarum created an acidic environment with pH values below the growth boundary of L. monocytogenes. Some of the variants were able to withstand the low pH in the mixed biofilms for a longer time than the WT and there were clear differences in survival between the variants which could not be correlated to (lactic) acid resistance alone. Adaptation to mild pH of liquid cultures during growth to stationary phase increased the acid resistance of some variants to a greater extent than of others, indicating differences in adaptive behaviour between the variants. Two variants that showed a high level of acid adaptation when grown in liquid cultures, showed also better performance in mixed species biofilms. There were no clear differences in BAC resistance between the wild type and variants in mixed biofilms. It can be concluded that acid resistant variants of L. monocytogenes show diversity in their adaptation to acidic conditions and their capacity to survive in mixed cultures and biofilms with L. plantarum.