Tu Anh Huynh explores the mysteries of Listeria

Tu-Anh Huynh spends much of her time tracking tricksters that alter their shape and function to sur- vive in extreme conditions. In other words, she studies bacteria.

Unique among such change artists, the pathogen called Listeria monocytogenes (listeria) has long fascinated Huynh with its ability to grow in cold refrigerators and garden soil. It thrives under preservation and harsh storage conditions, where most other bacteria don’t survive, and infects more than 40 animal species, including humans. Listeria can easily contaminate many types of foods, such as poultry, hot dogs, lunch meat, melons, unpasteurized cheeses, and coleslaw. And although listeria infection (listeriosis) occurs through eating contaminated foods, it can go on to cause severe infections in susceptible people, also called the YOPI group (young, old, pregnant, immunocompromised). Each year, an estimated 1,600 people contract listeriosis, and about 260 of them die, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Huynh wants to change those numbers.

Read the full article at: https://grow.cals.wisc.edu/departments/living-science/listerias-archnemesis