Phenotypic and genetic diversity of Lactococcus lactis and Enterococcus spp. strains isolated from Northern Spain starter-free farmhouse cheeses

Int J Food Microbiol. 2004 Feb 1;90(3):309-19. doi: 10.1016/s0168-1605(03)00323-4.


To evaluate a previous phenotypic classification of lactococci, 39 presumed lactococcal strains were classified by molecular techniques. The strains were also subjected to several typing techniques to estimate the phenotypic and genetic diversity present in original populations from starter-free farmhouse cheeses. Partial Amplified rDNA Restriction Analysis (partial ARDRA) with either restriction enzyme MboII or HhaI divided these isolates into four distinctive groups. Sequencing of representative amplicons identified 29 isolates as belonging to Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis (24) and Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris (5). The remaining 10 isolates were shown to be Enterococcus durans (8) and Enterococcus faecalis (2), which were misclassified by the traditional tests. Thus, partial ARDRA was successfully used to classify wild Lactococcus-like strains into Lactococcus and Enterococcus species. The technique also allowed differentiation of L. lactis strains at subspecies level. The 29 strains of L. lactis showed five different fermentation profiles, four distinct Random Amplification of Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) profiles, and 14 unrelated profiles by both Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism analyzed by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (RFLP-PFGE) and Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Using the same techniques, the 10 enterococcal strains showed four fermentation profiles, four RADP, and six by RFLP-PFGE and SDS-PAGE, respectively. Several typing techniques, especially RFLP-PFGE and SDS-PAGE, revealed wide phenotypic and genetic variability in both the lactococcal and enterococcal isolates. Two simple, rapid and cheap techniques (partial ARDRA and SDS-PAGE) are proposed as reliable tools for the classification and typing of new lactococcal-like isolates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Cheese / microbiology*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Enterococcus / classification*
  • Enterococcus / genetics
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Lactococcus lactis / classification*
  • Lactococcus lactis / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA Technique
  • Spain