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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 746859, 10 pages
Research Article

Molecular Identification and Quantification of Tetracycline and Erythromycin Resistance Genes in Spanish and Italian Retail Cheeses

1Departamento de Microbiología y Bioquímica, Instituto de Productos Lácteos de Asturias (IPLA-CSIC), Paseo Río Linares s/n, Villaviciosa, 33300 Asturias, Spain
2Dipartimento di Biotecnologie, Università Degli Studi di Verona, Strada Le Grazie, 15, 37134 Verona, Italy

Received 4 July 2014; Revised 21 August 2014; Accepted 27 August 2014; Published 11 September 2014

Academic Editor: Gundlapally S. Reddy

Copyright © 2014 Ana Belén Flórez et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Large antibiotic resistance gene pools in the microbiota of foods may ultimately pose a risk for human health. This study reports the identification and quantification of tetracycline- and erythromycin-resistant populations, resistance genes, and gene diversity in traditional Spanish and Italian cheeses, via culturing, conventional PCR, real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR), and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). The numbers of resistant bacteria varied widely among the antibiotics and the different cheese varieties; in some cheeses, all the bacterial populations seemed to be resistant. Up to eight antibiotic resistance genes were sought by gene-specific PCR, six with respect to tetracycline, that is, tet(K), tet(L), tet(M), tet(O), tet(S), and tet(W), and two with respect to erythromycin, that is, erm(B) and erm(F). The most common resistance genes in the analysed cheeses were tet(S), tet(W), tet(M), and erm(B). The copy numbers of these genes, as quantified by qPCR, ranged widely between cheeses (from 4.94 to ). DGGE analysis revealed distinct banding profiles and two polymorphic nucleotide positions for tet(W)-carrying cheeses, though the similarity of the sequences suggests this tet(W) to have a monophyletic origin. Traditional cheeses would therefore appear to act as reservoirs for large numbers of many types of antibiotic resistance determinants.