Prevalence and diversity of tetracycline resistant lactic acid bacteria and their tet genes along the process line of fermented dry sausages.Syst Appl Microbiol 2003; 26(2):277-83SA
In order to study the prevalence and diversity of tetracycline resistant lactic acid bacteria (Tc(r) LAB) along the process line of two different fermented dry sausage (FDS) types, samples from the raw meat, the meat batter and the fermented end product were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively by using a culture-dependent approach. Both the diversity of the tet genes and their bacterial hosts in the different stages of FDS production were determined. Quantitative analysis showed that all raw meat components of both FDS types (FDS-01 and FDS-08) contained a subpopulation of Tc(r) LAB, and that for FDS-01 no Tc(r) LAB could be recovered from the samples after fermentation. Qualitative analysis of the Tc(r) LAB subpopulation in FDS-08 included identification and typing of Tc(r) LAB isolates by (GTG)5-PCR fingerprinting, plasmid profiling, protein profiling and a characterization of the resistance by PCR detection of tet genes. Two remarks can be made when the results of this analysis for the different samples are compared. (i) The taxonomic diversity of Tc(r) LAB varies along the process line, with a higher diversity in the raw meat (lactococci, lactobacilli, streptococci, and enterococci), and a decrease after fermentation (only lactobacilli). (ii) Also the genetic diversity of the tet genes varies along the process line. Both tet(M) and tet(S) were found in the raw meat, whereas only tet(M) was found after fermentation. A possible relationship was found between the disappearing of species other than lactobacilli and tet(S), because tet(S) was only found in lacotocci, enterococci, and streptococci. These data suggest that fermented dry sausages are among those food products that can serve as vehicles for Tc(r) LAB and that the raw meat already contains a subpopulation of these bacteria. Whether these results reflect the transfer of resistant bacteria or of bacterial resistance genes from animals to man via the food chain is difficult to ascertain and may require a combination of cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent approaches.