Acquisition of antibiotic resistances (AR) by pathogens leads ultimately to a failure of antibiotic therapy. The food chain is considered a key player in the transmission of AR determinants to pathogens from reservoirs in commensal and beneficial bacteria. Therefore, the absence of transmissible AR genes in bacteria used as starter and adjunct cultures for food and feed processing is considered to be critical (EFSA, 2012; EFSA Journal, 10:2740). Genome sequencing allows the inspection of the whole genetic makeup of bacteria in the search for the basis of desirable and undesirable traits, including that of AR. Thus, in silico sequence analysis and comparison against databases can be used as a tool for the safety assessment of microorganisms intended to be used in food systems. This communication reports on the genome analysis of three Leuconostoc mesenteroides strains of dairy origin showing atypical resistances to tetracycline (LbT16), erythromycin and clindamycin (LbE15), and kanamycin, streptomycin, tetracycline and virginiamycin (LbE16). Genes encoding for erythromycin [erm(B)] and tetracycline [tet(S)] resistance had already been detected by PCR. Genome analysis confirmed the presence of these genes and identified others which encode uncommon AR in lactic acid bacteria. Analysis of the genes and their flanking regions revealed a potential of some to be horizontally transferred to other bacteria. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of combining genome sequencing and bioinformatics analysis as an affordable tool for the safety assessment of food bacteria. This innovative approach could become a novel paradigm in the selection programs of starters for the food industry.
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