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International Journal of Food Microbiology 71 Ž2001. 1–20 www.elsevier.comrlocaterijfoodmicro

Review article

Bacteriocins: safe, natural antimicrobials for food preservation Jennifer Cleveland a , Thomas J. Montville a , Ingolf F. Nes b, Michael L. Chikindas a, ) a

Department of Food Science, Rutgers, The State UniÕersity of New Jersey, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA b
Laboratory of Microbial Gene Technology, Department of Biotechnological Sciences, Agricultural UniÕersity of Norway, ˚
N-1432 As, Norway
Received 31 January 2001; received in revised form 10 May 2001; accepted 11 June 2001

Bacteriocins are antibacterial proteins produced by bacteria that kill or inhibit the growth of other bacteria. Many lactic acid bacteria ŽLAB. produce a high diversity of different bacteriocins. Though these bacteriocins are produced by LAB found in numerous fermented and non-fermented foods, nisin is currently the only bacteriocin widely used as a food preservative. Many bacteriocins have been characterized biochemically and genetically, and though there is a basic understanding of their structure–function, biosynthesis, and mode of action, many aspects of these compounds are still unknown. This article gives an overview of bacteriocin applications, and differentiates bacteriocins from antibiotics. A comparison of the synthesis, mode of action, resistance and safety of the two types of molecules is covered. Toxicity data exist for only a few bacteriocins, but research and their long-time intentional use strongly suggest that bacteriocins can be safely used. q 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. Keywords: Bacteriocin; Antimicrobial; Natural; Non-antibiotic; Food preservation

1. Introduction: the need for natural food preservation
Since food safety has become an increasingly
important international concern, the application of
antimicrobial peptides from lactic acid bacteria
ŽLAB. that target food pathogens without toxic or
other adverse effects has received great attention.
Recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States suggest that there are 76 million cases of food-borne illness in the
US each year, which result in about 5000 deaths


Corresponding author. Fax: q
E-mail address:
ŽM.L. Chikindas..

ŽMead et al., 1999.. The US cost of foodborne
illness associated with Campylobacter jejuni ,
Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli O157:H7,
Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Staphylococcus
aureus and Toxoplasma gondii is between $6.5 and
$34.9 billion ŽBuzby and Roberts, 1997.. Recent
outbreaks of emerging pathogens such as L. monocytogenes have prompted the food industry, the public, and the government to question the adequacy
of current methods of food preservation Žhttp:rr
pb10289b.html, 2000.. The consumption of more
food that has been formulated with chemical preservatives has also increased consumer concern and created a demand for more AnaturalB and Aminimally
processedB food. As a result, there has been a great
interest in naturally produced antimicrobial agents.

0168-1605r01r$ - see front matter q 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 1 6 8 - 1 6 0 5 Ž 0 1 . 0 0 5 6 0 - 8


Table 1
Antimicrobial peptides of eukaryotic origin

Mode of Action





Pardachiros maroratus ŽRed
Sea Moses Sole. and Par.
paÕoninus Žpeacock sole.

Gramq, more
effective against

Bee venom


Ceratitis capita


Grq and Gry


Human saliva

Form pores in


Trichoderma Žsoil fungi.


ŽGoulard et al., 1995.


Humoral immune system of
some insects, i.e., Hyalophora
cecropia Žgiant silk moth.

Forms voltage gated
ion channels
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