Fifteen fingerprints (assigned to Leuconostoc spp., Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Weissella viridescens, Leuconostoc citreum, and Lactobacillus sakei) of 89 lactic acid bacteria (LAB) isolated from minced beef stored under modified atmospheres at various temperatures were screened for their ability to exhibit autoinducer-2 (AI-2)–like activity under certain growth conditions. Cell-free meat extracts (CFME) were collected at the same time as the LAB isolates and tested for the presence of AI-2–like molecules. All bioassays were conducted using the Vibrio harveyi BAA-1117 (sensor 1, sensor 2+) biosensor strain. The possible inhibitory effect of meat extracts on the activity of the biosensor strain was also evaluated. AI-2–like activity was observed for Leuconostoc spp. isolates, but none of the L. sakei strains produced detectable AI-2–like activity. The AI-2–like activity was evident mainly associated with the Leuconostoc sp. B 233 strain, which was the dominant isolate recovered from storage at 10 and 15°C and at the initial and middle stages of storage at chill temperatures (0 and 5°C). The tested CFME samples displayed low AI-2–like activity and inhibited AI-2 activity regardless of the indigenous bacterial populations. The LAB isolated during meat spoilage exhibited AI-2–like activity, whereas the LAB strains retrieved depended on storage time and temperature. The production of AI-2–like molecules may affect the dominance of different bacterial strains during storage. The results provide a basis for further research concerning the effect of storage temperature on the expression of genes encoding AI-2 activity and on the diversity of the ephemeral bacterial population.

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