Enterococci were isolated from semicotto caprino cheese, a traditional cheese produced in Southern Italy: they were a signi®cant part of the microbial population of this cheese, con®rming the importance of the presence of these micro-organisms during cheese-making and ripening. They were also identi®ed and studied for their phenotypic and genotypic characteristics: Enterococcus faecalis and Ent. faecium were the most frequently isolated species, followed by Ent. durans, Ent. hirae and Ent. gallinarum. None of the isolates showed lipolytic activity, whereas they were characterized by a relevant proteolytic activity as well as an antagonistic activity towards Listeria innocua. One strain of Ent. gallinarum showed a low-level resistance to vancomycin, while six out of the 79 Ent. faecalis strains possessed b-haemolysis reaction. The highest acidifying potential in skim milk was obtained by Ent. faecalis isolates. Thirty enterococcal strains representative of the different species at different ripening times were analysed by means of RAPD-PCR, and revealed species-speci®c pro®les for all the considered species.
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