Lactic acid bacteria species were molecularly identified in milk from Lacaune, Santa Inês and crossbred sheep breeds and their in vitro probiotic potential was evaluated. The species identified were Enterococcus faecium (56.25%), E. durans (31.25%) and E. casseliflavus (12.5%). No other lactic acid bacteria species, such as lactobacilli, was identified. Most of the isolated enterococci were resistant to gastric pH (2.0) and to 0.3% oxgall. All tested enterococci were resistant to ceftazidime, oxacillin and streptomycin and sensible to clindamycin, erythromycin and penicillin. The resistance to ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, tetracycline and vancomycin varied among tested species. All tested enterococci strongly inhibited (P<0.05) Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes, moderately inhibited E. faecalis and Staphylococcus aureus and did not inhibit Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella enterica var. Typhimurium and also one E. durans sample isolated from sheep milk. Four samples of E. faecium, one of E. durans and one of E. casseliflavus presented the best probiotic potential.
sheep milk; enterococci; probiotic potential