Strains of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) produce a wide variety of antibacterial peptides. More than fifty of these so-called peptide bacteriocins have been isolated in the last few years. They contain 20-60 amino acids, and are cationic and hydrophobic in nature. Several of these bacteriocins consist of two complementary peptides. The peptide bacteriocins of LAB are inhibitory at concentrations in the nanomolar range, and cause membrane permeabilization and leakage of intracellular components in sensitive cells. The inhibitory spectrum is limited to gram-positive bacteria, and in many cases to bacteria closely related to the producing strain. Among the target organisms are food spoilage bacteria and pathogens such as Listeria, so that many of these antimicrobial peptides could have a potential as food preservatives as well as in medical applications.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.