The aim of the present study was to investigate the phenotypic and genotypic antimicrobial resistance and the transferability of resistance markers in 87 lactic acid bacterial strains recovered from fermented milk products obtained from different areas of China. The isolates were identified as 21 Lactobacillus bulgaricus, 8 Lactobacillus casei, 6 Lactobacillus rhamnosus, 3 Lactobacillus paracasei, 2 Lactobacillus acidophilus, and 47 Streptococcus thermophilus strains. High levels of intrinsic resistance were revealed among the tested species. The following resistance genes were detected in strains isolated from fermented milk products: tet(M) in two L. bulgaricus and two S. thermophilus isolates, strA and strB in nine and seven S. thermophilus isolates, respectively; sul1 in six L. bulgaricus and seven S. thermophilus isolates, sul2 in one S. thermophilus isolate, aac(6')-aph(2″) in two L. bulgaricus isolates, and aph(3″)-II and aph(3″)-III in one S. thermophilus and two L. bulgaricus isolates, respectively. Transfer of the monitored antibiotic resistance genes was not observed in the filter mating assays of this study. To our knowledge, the strA, strB, sul1, sul2, and aph(3″)-II genes in S. thermophilus, and the sul1 and aac(6')-aph(2″) genes in L. bulgaricus were identified for the first time. These results indicate the potential risks posed by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) in fermented milk products in expanding the antibiotic resistance gene reservoir and transferring antibiotic resistance genes among bacteria. Further investigations are required to identify the potential sources of contamination and the dissemination routes of antibiotic resistance genes among LAB in fermented milk products.
Keywords: spp.,; antibiotic susceptibility; fermented milk products; resistance genes.