Acquisition through Horizontal Gene Transfer of Plasmid pSMA198 by Streptococcus macedonicus ACA-DC 198 Points towards the Dairy Origin of the Species
Lactococci are one of the most exploited microorganisms used in the manufacture of food. These intensively used cultures are generally characterized by having a rich plasmid complement. It could be argued that it is the plasmid complement of commercially utilized cultures that gives them their technical superiority and individuality. Consequently, it is timely to reflect on the desirable characteristics encoded on lactococcal plasmids. It is argued that plasmids play a key role in the evolution of modern starter strains and are a lot more than just selfish replicosomes but more essential necessities of intensively used commercial starters. Moreover, the study of plasmid biology provides a genetic blueprint that has proved essential for the generation of molecular tools for the genetic improvement of Lactococcus lactis.