If the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria behind food poisoning are starved of oxygen, they are liable to turn really nasty according to research published in the online journal BMC Microbiology.
Limiting oxygen produces bacteria up to 100 times more invasive than similar bacteria grown with ample oxygen supplies.
Bjarke Christensen and Tine Licht together with colleagues from Denmark’s National Food Institute set out to investigate whether the growth conditions of Listeria bacteria just prior to being eaten had an effect on their virulence once absorbed by the gut. Guinea pigs were fed food laced with L. monocytogenes, grown either in an oxygen-rich atmosphere, or starved of oxygen. The team used fluorescent labelling to tell the bacteria strains apart.