Featured Articles

Interpretive Summary: Whole genome sequence analyses-based assessment of virulence potential and antimicrobial susceptibilities and resistance of Enterococcus faecium strains isolated from commercial swine and cattle probiotic products

By: Pragathi B. Shridhar, Raghavendra G. Amachawadi, Mike Tokach, Isha Patel, Jayanthi Gangiredla, Mark Mammel, and T. G. Nagaraja

Probiotics, also called direct-fed microbials, are widely used in swine and cattle production systems, as an alternative for antibiotics. The benefits of feeding probiotic products include growth promotion and gut functional benefits. One of the more common bacterial species used in swine and cattle commercial probiotic products is Enterococcus faecium. The species is also a member of the normal flora of hindgut of humans and animals. In recent years, the species has emerged as a major hospital-acquired infection in humans, mainly because of the propensity to become resistant to antibiotics. In the United States, the species is considered as generally recognized as safe. In this study, the virulence and antimicrobial resistance genes profiles of 9 and 13 E. faecium strains isolated from commercial swine and cattle probiotics, respectively, were assessed by sequencing the whole genome DNA. The analysis indicated that 14 of 22 strains were Enterococcus lactis, and not E. faecium. The absence of major virulence genes characteristic of the clinical E. faecium strains suggests that the strains are unlikely to initiate opportunistic infection. However, the carriage of genes that confer resistance to medically important antibiotics suggests that probiotic strains may pose risk as a source of antimicrobial resistance genes to other bacteria.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.