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Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Aug 1;84(3):299-318.

Screening for enterocins and detection of hemolysin and vancomycin resistance in enterococci of different origins.

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Research Group of Industrial Microbiology, Fermentation Technology and Downstream Processing, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB-IMDO), Pleinlaan 2, Belgium.


The inhibitory activity of 122 out of 426 Enterococcus strains of geographically widespread origin and from different sources (food and feed, animal isolates, clinical and nonclinical human isolates) was tested against a wide range of indicator bacteria. Seventy-two strains, mainly belonging to the species Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis were bacteriocinogenic. A remarkable variation of inhibitory spectra occurred among the strains tested, including inhibition of, for instance, only closely related enterococci, other lactic acid bacteria (LAB), food spoilage and pathogenic bacteria. No correlation could be found between the origin of the strains and the type of inhibitory spectrum, although a clustering of human isolates from both fecal and clinical origin was observed in the group of strains inhibiting lactic acid bacteria, Listeria, and either Staphylococcus or Clostridium. No relationship could be established between the presence of enterocin structural genes and the origin of the strain either, and hence no correlation seemed to exist between the presence of known enterocin genes and the activity spectra of these enterococci. The structural gene of enterocin A was widely distributed among E. faecium strains, whereas that of enterocin B only occurred in the presence of enterocin A. The vancomycin resistance phenotype as well as the presence of vancomycin resistance genes was also investigated. The vanA gene only occurred among E. faecium strains. The incidence of beta-hemolysis was not restricted to E. faecalis strains, but among the E. faecium strains the structural genes of cytolysin were not detected. beta-Hemolysis occurred in strains both from food and nonfood origin. It has been concluded that bacteriocin-producing E. faecium strains lacking hemolytic activity and not carrying cytolysin nor vancomycin resistance genes may be useful as starter cultures, cocultures, or probiotics.

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