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Title: Characterization of six Leuconostoc fallax bacteriophages isolated from an industrial sauerkraut fermentation

item Breidt, Frederick
item Fleming, Henry

Submitted to: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/25/2002
Publication Date: 10/1/2002
Citation: Barrangou, R., Yoon, S.S., Breidt, F., Fleming, H.P., Klaenhammer, T.R. 2002. Characterization of six Leuconostoc fallax bacteriophages isolated from an industrial sauerkraut fermentation. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 68:5452-5458.

Interpretive Summary: This peer-reviewed journal article describes six bacterial viruses that were isolated from an industrial sauerkraut fermentation. These viruses only infect the bacteria that are involved in food fermentations; they do not infect human or plant cells. The viruses were found to infect one of the strains of lactic acid bacteria (Leuconostoc fallax) that that has recently been found to be involved the early, flavor-forming stages of the sauerkraut fermentation. The viruses were characterized by molecular genetic and biochemical methods. Understanding the ecology and activity of bacterial viruses in vegetable fermentations may lead to new fermentation practices that reduce chloride waste disposal problems. This research is not 'sensitive' and may aid in the development of low-salt, controlled fermentation technology for the vegetable fermentation industry.

Technical Abstract: Six bacteriophages active against Leuconostoc fallax strains were isolated from industrial sauerkraut fermentation brines. These phages were characterized as to host range, morphology, structural proteins, and genome fingerprint. They were exclusively lytic against the species L. fallax and had different host ranges among the strains of this species tested. Morphologically, three of the phages were assigned to the family Siphoviridae, and the three others were assigned to the family Myoviridae. Major capsid proteins detected by electrophoresis were distinct for each of the two morphotypes. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA fingerprinting showed that all six phages were genetically distinct. These results revealed for the first time the existence of bacteriophages that are active against L. fallax and confirmed the presence and diversity of bacteriophages in a sauerkraut fermentation. Since a variety of L. fallax strains have been shown to be present in sauerkraut fermentation, bacteriophages active against L. fallax are likely to contribute to the microbial ecology of sauerkraut fermentation and could be responsible for some of the variability observed in this type of fermentation.