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J Appl Microbiol. 2004;97(4):719-30.

PCR detection of staphylococcal enterotoxin genes in Staphylococcus spp. strains isolated from meat and dairy products. Evidence for new variants of seG and seI in S. aureus AB-8802.

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Dipartimento di Scienza degli Alimenti, Sezione di Microbiologia Agraria, Alimentare, Ambientale e di Igiene, Stazione di Microbiologia Industriale, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Via Università, Portici, Italy.



Evaluation of the occurrence of most known staphylococcal enterotoxin (SE) genes, egc (enterotoxin gene cluster) and TSST1 (toxic shock syndrome toxin 1) gene in both coagulase-positive (CPS) and coagulase-negative (CNS) staphylococcal strains isolated from meat and dairy products.


Specificity and reliability of the PCR detection methods used were ascertained by using nine reference strains of Staphylococcus (S. aureus) harbouring SE genes (seA to seE; seG, seH, seI, seM, seJ, seN and seO) and egc (containing the following sequence of genes: seO, seM, seI, phient1, phient2, seN and seG). Of 109 wild Staphylococcus spp. strains analysed, only 11 S. aureus strains were SE and/or TSST1 PCR-positive. The last 11 strains also appeared to harbour the egc. Restriction endonuclease analysis of part of the egc of both reference and wild strains showed that different variants of the egc exist. Moreover, nucleotide sequences of seG and seI indicate that the egc of the strain AB-8802 is characterized by the presence of variants of these enterotoxins (seGv and seIv).


The occurrence of SE genes in CNS and other non-S. aureus species isolated from Napoli-type salami, raw water buffalo milk and natural whey cultures used for mozzarella cheese manufacturing is very rare.


During this study it was shown that at least five different egc may exist in S. aureus. A thorough study of egc polymorphism should provide further insight into the phylogenetics of the egc.

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