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Indigenous fermented food products play an essential role in the diet of millions of Africans. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are among the predominant microbial species in African indigenous fermented food products and are used for different applications in the food and biotechnology industries. Numerous studies have described antimicrobial susceptibility profiles of LAB from different parts of the world. However, there is limited information on antimicrobial resistance profiles of LAB from Africa. The aim of this study was to characterize 33 LAB previously isolated from three different African indigenous fermented food products using (GTG)5-based rep-PCR, sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and species-specific PCR techniques for differentiation of closely related species and further evaluate their antibiotic resistance profiles by the broth microdilution method and their haemolytic activity on sheep blood agar plates as indicators of safety traits among these bacteria.
Using molecular biology based methods and selected phenotypic tests such as catalase reaction, CO2 production from glucose, colonies and cells morphology, the isolates were identified as Lactobacillus delbrueckii, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus ghanensis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus salivarius, Leuconostoc pseudomesenteroides, Pediococcus acidilactici, Pediococcus pentosaceus and Weissella confusa. The bacteria were susceptible to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, clindamycin and erythromycin but resistant to vancomycin, kanamycin and streptomycin. Variable sensitivity profiles to tetracycline and gentamicin was observed among the isolates with Lb. plantarum, Lb. salivarius, W. confusa (except strain SK9-5) and Lb. fermentum strains being susceptible to tetracycline whereas Pediococcus strains and Lb. ghanensis strains were resistant. For gentamicin, Leuc. pseudomesenteroides, Lb. ghanensis and Ped. acidilactici strains were resistant to 64mg/L whereas some W. confusa and Lb. plantarum strains had a MIC value of 16mg/L and 32mg/L respectively. No β-haemolytic activity was observed, however, α-haemolytic activity was observed in 27% (9) of the strains comprising Lb. salivarius (6), W. confusa (2) and Lb. delbrueckii (1) isolates.
The resistance to kanamycin and vancomycin is probably an intrinsic feature since similar observations were reported in the literature for LAB. Low prevalence of pathogenicity indicator traits were observed among the isolates especially with the presence of poor haemolytic activities and they could therefore be considered as interesting candidates for selection of starter cultures or probiotics for different applications.