Stored-product insects carry antibiotic-resistant and potentially virulent enterococci


  • Editor: Kornelia Smalla

Correspondence: Bhadriraju Subramanyam, Department of Grain Science and Industry, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-2201, USA. Tel.: +1 785 532 4092; fax: +1 785 532 7010; e-mail:


A total of 154 enterococcal isolates from 95 stored-product insects collected from a feed mill, a grain storage silo, and a retail store were isolated and identified to the species level using PCR. Enterococcus casseliflavus represented 51% of the total isolates, followed by Enterococcus gallinarum (24%), Enterococcus faecium (14%), Enterococcus faecalis (7%), and Enterococcus hirae (5%). Many isolates were resistant to tetracycline (48%), followed by streptomycin (21%), erythromycin (14%), kanamycin (13%), ciprofloxacin (12%), ampicillin (4%), and chloramphenicol (<1%). Enterococci carried genes coding for virulence factors, including the gelatinase gene gelE (26% of isolates), an enterococcal surface protein gene esp (1%), and the cytolysin gene cylA (2%). An aggregation substance (asa1) gene was detected in six out of 10 E. faecalis isolates and five of these were positive for the aggregation substance. Enterococci were positive for hemolytic (57% of isolates) and gelatinolytic (23%) activity. The filter-mating assay showed that the tetracycline resistance gene, tetM, was transferable among E. faecalis by conjugation. These data demonstrated that stored-product insects can serve as potential vectors in disseminating antibiotic-resistant and potentially virulent enterococci.