Enterococcus faecium NRRL B-2354 is a surrogate microorganism used in place of pathogens for validation of thermal processing technologies and systems. We evaluated the safety of strain NRRL B-2354 based on its genomic and functional characteristics. The genome of E. faecium NRRL B-2354 was sequenced and found to comprise a 2,635,572-bp chromosome and a 214,319-bp megaplasmid. A total of 2,639 coding sequences were identified, including 45 genes unique to this strain. Hierarchical clustering of the NRRL B-2354 genome with 126 other E. faecium genomes as well as pbp5 locus comparisons and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) showed that the genotype of this strain is most similar to commensal, or community-associated, strains of this species. E. faecium NRRL B-2354 lacks antibiotic resistance genes, and both NRRL B-2354 and its clonal relative ATCC 8459 are sensitive to clinically relevant antibiotics. This organism also lacks, or contains nonfunctional copies of, enterococcal virulence genes including acm, cyl, the ebp operon, esp, gelE, hyl, IS16, and associated phenotypes. It does contain scm, sagA, efaA, and pilA, although either these genes were not expressed or their roles in enterococcal virulence are not well understood. Compared with the clinical strains TX0082 and 1,231,502, E. faecium NRRL B-2354 was more resistant to acidic conditions (pH 2.4) and high temperatures (60°C) and was able to grow in 8% ethanol. These findings support the continued use of E. faecium NRRL B-2354 in thermal process validation of food products.
Journal: Applied and environmental microbiology