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Int J Food Microbiol. 2005 Dec 15;105(3):281-95. Epub 2005 Nov 8.

Antibiotic resistance in food lactic acid bacteria--a review.

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  • 1National Collection of Dairy Cultures, Dairy Microbiology Division, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, PIN 243 122, India.


Antibiotics are a major tool utilized by the health care industry to fight bacterial infections; however, bacteria are highly adaptable creatures and are capable of developing resistance to antibiotics. Consequently, decades of antibiotic use, or rather misuse, have resulted in bacterial resistance to many modern antibiotics. This antibiotic resistance can cause significant danger and suffering for many people with common bacterial infections, those once easily treated with antibiotics. For several decades studies on selection and dissemination of antibiotic resistance have focused mainly on clinically relevant species. However, recently many investigators have speculated that commensal bacteria including lactic acid bacteria (LAB) may act as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance genes similar to those found in human pathogens. The main threat associated with these bacteria is that they can transfer resistance genes to pathogenic bacteria. Genes conferring resistance to tetracycline, erythromycin and vancomycin have been detected and characterized in Lactococcus lactis, Enterococci and, recently, in Lactobacillus species isolated from fermented meat and milk products. A number of initiatives have been recently launched by various organizations across the globe to address the biosafety concerns of starter cultures and probiotic microorganisms. The studies can lead to better understanding of the role played by the dairy starter microorganisms in horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes to intestinal microorganisms and food-associated pathogenic bacteria.

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