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Bacteriocins are antimicrobial proteins produced by bacteria that inhibit the growth of other bacteria with a bactericidal or bacteriostatic mode of action. Many lactic acid bacteria (LAB) produce a high diversity of different bacteriocins. Bacteriocinogenic LAB are generally recognised as safe (GRAS) and useful to control the frequent development of pathogens and spoilage microorganisms. For this reason they are commonly used as starter cultures in food fermentations. In this study, the authors describe the results of a screening on 699 LAB isolated from wooden vat surfaces, raw milk and traditional Sicilian cheeses, for the production of bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances, by comparing two alternative methods. The antagonistic activity of LAB and its proteinaceous nature were evaluated using the spot-on-the-lawn and the well-diffusion assay (WDA) and the sensitivity to proteolytic (proteinase K, protease B and trypsin), amylolytic (α-amylase) and lipolytic (lipase) enzymes. The indicator strains used were: Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella enteritidis. A total of 223 strains (belonging to the species Enterococcus spp., Lactobacillus spp., Pediococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., Leuconostoc spp. and Lactococcus lactis) were found to inhibit the growth of Listeria monocytogenes by using the spot-on-the-lawn method; only 37 of these were confirmed by using the WDA. The direct addition of bacteriocin-producing cultures into dairy products can be a more practical and economic option for the improvement of the safety and quality of the final product.
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