Erythromycin-resistant lactic acid bacteria in the healthy gut of vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians and omnivores.


Milanović V and Osimani A and Cardinali F and Litta-Mulondo A and Vignaroli C and Citterio B and Mangiaterra G and Aquilanti L and Garofalo C and Biavasco F and Cocolin L and Ferrocino I and Di Cagno R and Turroni S and Lazzi C and Pellegrini N and Clementi F

Year Published: 



PloS one


Study Design: 


Diet can affect the diversity and composition of gut microbiota. Usage of antibiotics in food production and in human or veterinary medicine has resulted in the emergence of commensal antibiotic resistant bacteria in the human gut. The incidence of erythromycin-resistant lactic acid bacteria (LAB) in the feces of healthy vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians and omnivores was analyzed. Overall, 155 LAB were isolated and characterized for their phenotypic and genotypic resistance to erythromycin. The isolates belonged to 11 different species within the Enterococcus and Streptococcus genera. Enterococcus faecium was the dominant species in isolates from all the dietary categories. Only 97 out of 155 isolates were resistant to erythromycin after Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) determination; among them, 19 isolates (7 from vegans, 4 from ovo-lacto vegetarians and 8 from omnivores) carried the erm(B) gene. The copresence of erm(B) and erm(A) genes was only observed in Enterococcus avium from omnivores. Moreover, the transferability of erythromycin resistance genes using multidrug-resistant (MDR) cultures selected from the three groups was assessed, and four out of six isolates were able to transfer the erm(B) gene. Overall, isolates obtained from the omnivore samples showed resistance to a greater number of antibiotics and carried more tested antibiotic resistance genes compared to the isolates from ovo-lacto vegetarians and vegans. In conclusion, our results show that diet does not significantly affect the occurrence of erythromycin-resistant bacteria and that commensal strains may act as a reservoir of antibiotic resistance (AR) genes and as a source of antibiotic resistance spreading.