We attempted to identify the genetic loci for sucrose-fermenting ability (Suc+), nisin-producing ability (Nip+), and nisin resistance (Nisr) in certain strains of Streptococcus lactis. To obtain genetic evidence linking the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr phenotype to a distinct plasmid, both conjugal transfer and transformation were attempted. A conjugation procedure modified to protect the recipients against the inhibitory action of nisin allowed the conjugal transfer of the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr marker from three Suc+ Nip+ Nisr donors to various recipients. The frequency of transfer ranged from 1.7 x 10(-4) to 5.6 x 10(-8) per input donor, depending on the mating pair. However, no additional plasmid DNA was apparent in these transconjugants. Transformation of S. lactis LM0230 to the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr phenotype by using the plasmid pool of S. lactis ATCC 11454 was not achieved, even though other plasmids present in the pool were successfully transferred. However, two results imply the involvement of plasmid DNA in coding for the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr phenotype. The Suc+ Nip+ Nisr marker was capable of conjugal transfer to a recipient deficient in host-mediated homologous recombination (Rec-), and the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr marker exhibited bilateral plasmid incompatibility with a number of lactose plasmids found in S. lactis. Although our results indicate that the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr phenotype is plasmid encoded, no physical evidence linking this phenotype to a distinct plasmid was obtained
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