The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of enterococci in cheese samples and to characterize their antimicrobial resistance profiles as well as the associated resistance genes. A total of 139 enterococci were isolated from 99 cheese samples, the isolates were identified as E. faecalis (61.2%), E. faecium (15.1%), E. gallinarum (12.9%), E. durans (5.0%), E. casseliflavis (2.9%) and E. avium (2.9%). The most frequent antimicrobial resistance observed in enterococci isolates was to lincomycin (88.5%), followed by kanamycin (84.2%), gentamycin (low level, 51.1%), rifampin (46.8%) and tetracycline (33.8%). Among the isolates, the frequencies of high level gentamycin and streptomycin resistant enterococci strains were 2.2% and 5.8%, respectively. Apart from the mentioned antibiotics, low levels of resistance to ciprofloxacin, erythromycin and chloramphenicol were found. Moreover no resistance was observed against penicillin and ampicillin. The antimicrobial resistance genes including tetM, tetL, ermB, cat, aph(3')-IIIa, ant(6)-Ia and aac(6')-Ieaph(2")-Ia were found in enterococci from Turkish cheese samples. In the current study, we provided data for antibiotic resistance and the occurrence of resistance genes among enterococci. Regulatory and quality control programs for milk and other dairy products from farms to retail outlets has to be established and strengthened to monitor trends in antimicrobial resistance among emerging food borne pathogens in Turkey.
Keywords: antimicrobial resistance; cheese; enterococci; resistance genes.