Listeria

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The genus Listeria currently contains 20 species: L. aquatica, L. booriae, L. cornellensis, L. costaricensis, L. goaensis, L. fleischmannii, L. floridensis, L. grandensis, L. grayi, L. innocua, L. ivanovii, L. marthii, L. monocytogenes, L. newyorkensis, L. riparia, L. rocourtiae, L. seeligeri, L. thailandensis, L. weihenstephanensis, and L. welshimeri. Listeria dinitrificans, previously thought to be part of the genus Listeria, was reclassified into the new genus Jonesia. Under the microscope, Listeria species appear as small rods, which are sometimes arranged in short chains. In direct smears, they may be coccoid, so they can be mistaken for streptococci. Longer cells may resemble corynebacteria. Flagella are produced at room temperature, but not at 37 °C. Hemolytic activity on blood agar has been used as a marker to distinguish L. monocytogenes from other Listeria species, but it is not an absolutely definitive criterion. Further biochemical characterization may be necessary to distinguish between the different species of Listeria.