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To determine the locations and sequences of pediocin AcH production genes in Pediococcus parvulus ATO77 from vegetables, Lactobacillus plantarum WHE92 from Muenster cheese, and a lactose-fermenting isolate Pediococcus pentosaceus S34 from buffalo milk.Plasmid curing, Southern blot hybridization, and DNA sequence analysis indicate that pediocin AcH production genes are encoded by highly similar operons in unique plasmids designated pATO77 from P. parvulus ATO77, pS34 from P. pentosaceus S34, and pWHE92 from Lact. plantarum WHE92. Structure, immunity and secretion system genes are linked together in the operons, and the promoter sequences are the same. The amino acid sequences of the encoded proteins are highly conserved between plasmids.Pediocin AcH production genes are located within a plasmid-borne operon cassette in all lactic acid bacterial strains examined to date. All four genes needed for production are present within a single plasmid in each strain.This is the first demonstration that the expression of a class IIa bacteriocin is directed by a common gene cassette that has been disseminated to unique plasmids in different genera of lactic acid bacteria. These plasmids should be useful for expressing pediocin AcH in Pediococcus and Lactobacillus strains used in food production.