The Paradoxical Role of Enterococcus Species in Foods
Luís Augusto Nero, Svetoslav Dimitrov Todorov and Luana Martins Peri
from: Probiotics and Prebiotics: Current Research and Future Trends (Edited by: Koen Venema and Ana Paula do Carmo). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2015) Pages: 153-166.
Enterococcus species present a diversity of genetic and phenotypic features, allowing them to present a high capacity to survive and grow at different conditions, explaining its constant presence in food production and processing environments and in end products. These microorganisms are able to produce a wide variety of virulence factors, highlighting their relevance as safety indicators in foods; however, they are also able to produce bacteriocins, called enterocins, and to promote specific modifications in food during fermentation. Enterococci are present in a variety of ripened cheeses, especially from the Mediterranean region, being responsible for specific aromas and flavors that determine the characteristics of these artisanal foods. Also, many Enterococcus species were characterized due to their probiotic potential, being included in commercial products to be consumed by humans and animals, aiming the promotion of health and well-being. Despite being known for possessing virulence genes, many studies demonstrated the absence of expression of such genes, especially isolates obtained from food systems, leading to studies that investigate their real relevance as pathogenic microorganisms. So, this paradoxical role of enterococci in foods must be properly discussed by food microbiologists, which is the focus of this chapter read more ...