Conventional, phenotypic, and DNA-based subtyping methods allow differentiation of Listeria monocytogenes beyond the species and subspecies level. Bacterial subtyping methods not only improve our ability to detect and track human listeriosis outbreaks, but also provide tools to track sources of L. monocytogenes contamination throughout the food system. The use of subtyping methods also provides an opportunity to better understand the population genetics, epidemiology, and ecology of L. monocytogenes. The last 5 years have seen tremendous advancements in the development of sensitive, rapid, automated, and increasingly easy-to-use molecular subtyping methods for L. monocytogenes. This review highlights key aspects of different L. monocytogenes subtyping methods and provides examples of their application in public health, food safety, population genetics, and epidemiology. A significant focus is on the application of subtyping methods to define L. monocytogenes subtypes and clonal groups, which may differ in phenotypic characteristics and pathogenic potential.
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