A new molecular method consisting of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of a small fragment from the 16S rRNA gene identified the Micrococcaceae strains isolated from natural fermented Italian sausages. Lactic acid bacteria, total aerobic mesophilic flora, Enterobacteriaceae and faecal enterococci were also monitored. Micrococcaceaea control strains from international collections were used to optimise the method and 90 strains, isolated from fermented sausages, were identified by biochemical tests and PCR-DGGE. No differences were observed between the methods used. The results reported in this paper prove that Staphylococcus xylosus is the main bacterium involved in fermented sausage production, representing, from the tenth day of ripening, the only Micrococcaceaea species isolated
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