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Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins
Vol. 6, No. 1, 2014, Pages: 32-40

Investigation of the Antimicrobial Activity of Bacillus licheniformis Strains Isolated from Retail Powdered Infant Milk Formulae

Avelino Alvarez-Ordóñez, Máire Begley, Tanya Clifford, Thérèse Deasy, Kiera Considine, Paula O’Connor, R. Paul Ross, Colin Hill

Department of Microbiology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.


This study investigated the potential antimicrobial activity of ten Bacillus licheniformis strains isolated from retail infant milk formulae against a range of indicator (Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Listeria innocua) and clinically relevant (Listeria monocytogenes,Staphylococcus aureusStreptococcus agalactiaeSalmonella Typhimurium and Escherichia coli) microorganisms. Deferred antagonism assays confirmed that all B. licheniformis isolates show antimicrobial activity against the Gram-positive target organisms. PCR and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry analyses indicated that four of the B. licheniformis isolates produce the bacteriocin lichenicidin. The remaining six isolates demonstrated a higher antimicrobial potency than lichenicidin-producing strains. Further analyses identified a peptide of ~1,422 Da as the most likely bioactive responsible for the antibacterial activity of these six isolates. N-terminal sequencing of the ~1,422 Da peptide from one strain identified it as ILPEITXIFHD. This peptide shows a high homology to the non-ribosomal peptides bacitracin and subpeptin, known to be produced by Bacillus spp. Subsequent PCR analyses demonstrated that the six B. licheniformis isolates may harbor the genetic machinery needed for the synthesis of a non-ribosomal peptide synthetase similar to those involved in production of subpeptin and bacitracin, which suggests that the ~1,422 Da peptide might be a variant of subpeptin and bacitracin.

Keywords: Bacillus licheniformis; Infant milk formulae; Bacteriocins; Lichenicidin; Non-ribosomal antimicrobial peptides.

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