Assessment of antimicrobial resistance transfer between lactic acid bacteria and potential foodborne pathogens using in vitro methods and mating in a food matrix.Foodborne Pathog Dis 2009; 6(8):925-33FP
The transferability of antimicrobial resistance from lactic acid bacteria (LAB) to potential pathogenic strains was studied using in vitro methods and mating in a food matrix. Five LAB donors containing either erythromycin or tetracycline resistance markers on transferable elements were conjugally mated with LAB (Enterococcus faecalis, Lactococcus lactis) and pathogenic strains (Listeria spp., Salmonella ssp., Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli). In vitro transfer experiments were carried out with the donors and recipients using both the filter and plate mating methods. The food matrix consisted of fermented whole milk (fermented with the LAB donors) with the pathogenic recipients added as contaminants during the production process. All transconjugants were confirmed by phenotypic and molecular methods. Erythromycin resistance transfer from LAB strains to Listeria spp. was observed using both in vitro mating methods at high transfer frequencies of up to 5.1 x 10(-4) transconjugants per recipient. Also, high frequency transfer (ranging from 2.7 x 10(-8) up to 1.1 x 10(-3) transconjugants per recipient) of both erythromycin and tetracycline-resistance was observed between LAB species using in vitro methods. No resistance transfer was observed to Salmonella spp., Staphylococcus aureus, and E. coli. The only conjugal transfer observed in the fermented milk matrix was for tetracycline resistance between two LAB strains (at a transfer frequency of 2.6 x 10(-7) transconjugants per recipients). This study demonstrates the transfer of antimicrobial resistance from LAB to Listeria spp. using in vitro methods and also the transfer of resistance between LAB species in a food matrix. It highlights the involvement of LAB as a potential source of resistance determinants that may be disseminated between LAB and pathogenic strains including Listeria spp. Furthermore, it indicates that food matrices such as fermented milks may provide a suitable environment to support gene exchange.