Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

, Volume 76, Issue 1–4, pp 115–137 | Cite as

Acquired antibiotic resistance in lactic acid bacteria from food

  • Michael Teuber
  • Leo Meile
  • Franziska Schwarz


Acquired antibiotic resistance, i.e. resistance genes located on conjugative or mobilizable plasmids and transposons can be found in species living in habitats (e.g. human and animal intestines) which are regularly challenged with antibiotics. Most data are available for enterococci and enteric lactobacilli. Raw material from animals (milk and meat) which are inadvertantly contaminated with fecal matters during production will carry antibiotic resistant lactic acid bacteria into the final fermented products such as raw milk cheeses and raw sausages. The discovered conjugative genetic elements of LAB isolated from animals and food are very similar to elements studied previously in pathogenic streptococci and enterococci, e.g. θ-type replicating plasmids of the pAMβ1, pIP501-family, and transposons of the Tn916-type. Observed resistance genes include known genes like tetM, ermAM, cat, sat and vanA. A composite 29'871 bp resistance plasmid detected in Lactococcus lacti s subsp. lactis isolated from a raw milk soft cheese contains tetS previously described in Listeria monocytogenes, cat and str from Staphylococcus aureus. Three out of five IS elements on the plasmid are almost or completely identical to IS1216 present in the vanA resistance transposon Tn1546. These data support the view that in antibiotic challenged habitats lactic acid bacteria like other bacteria participate in the communication systems which transfer resistance traits over species and genus borders. The prevalence of such bacteria with acquired resistances like enterococci is high in animals (and humans) which are regularly treated with antibiotics. The transfer of antibiotic resistant bacteria from animals into fermented and other food can be avoided if the raw substrate milk or meat is pasteurized or heat treated. Antibiotic resistance traits as selectable markers in genetic modification of lactic acid bacteria for different purposes are presently being replaced, e.g. by metabo lic traits to generate food-grade vectors.

antibiotic resistance Lactobacillus Lactococcus Entrococcus food 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Teuber
    • 1
  • Leo Meile
    • 1
  • Franziska Schwarz
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Food MicrobiologySwiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH-ZentrumZurichSwitzerland

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