Partial characterization and plasmid linkage of a non-proteinaceous antimicrobial compound in a Lactobacillus casei strain of vegetable origin


Correspondence to: Prof. M. Vescovo, Istituto di Microbiologia, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, via Emilia Parmense, 84, 29100 Piacenza, Italy (e-mail:


Lactobacillus casei IMPC LC34 of vegetable origin produces a non-proteinaceous inhibitory compound with a broad spectrum of activity towards Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including pathogens. The active substance, mainly produced in the stationary phase of growth, is insensitive to proteolytic enzymes, lipase and catalase, and is stable at 121 °C for 30 min. The inhibitory activity was detected either at 8 °C or at 37 °C. The active compound does not contain glucidic groups, is inactivated by Na-metaperiodate, and its molecular mass is between 2000 and 5000 Da. Plasmid curing experiments showed that both antimicrobial compound immunity and production determinants were encoded by an 8·8 kbp plasmid. The effectiveness of the active agent was verified on ready-to-use vegetables, using either the Lact. casei strain or its culture supernatant fluid as inoculant, compared with cured clone. The application potential of the Lact. casei strain or its culture supernatant fluid for assuring the microbiological safety of ready-to-use vegetables is discussed.