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Title: DNA fingerprinting of lactic acid bacteria in sauerkraut fermentations

item Breidt, Frederick

Submitted to: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/26/2007
Publication Date: 12/1/2007
Citation: Plengvidhya, V., Breidt, F., Lu, Z., Fleming, H.P. 2007. DNA fingerprinting of lactic acid bacteria in sauerkraut fermentations. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 73(23):7697-7702.

Interpretive Summary: This study of the bacteria present in commercial sauerkraut fermentations was carried out to aid in the development of low salt fermentation technology. Current vegetable fermentation technology generates sodium chloride waste. This is true for many types of vegetable fermentations, including sauerkraut, cucumber pickles and olives. The disposal of salt waste has been an ongoing problem for the industry. To develop fermentation technology that generates less salt waste, an understanding of the bacterial ecology that is needed. The scientific literature on the ecology of vegetable fermentations is limited to traditional microbial ecology studies relying on biochemical tests for bacterial identification. We used DNA sequencing and fingerprinting techniques to analyze commercial sauerkraut fermentations, and we found that the microbial diversity in these fermentations is far more complex than previously reported. These studies supplement and extend our earlier work investigating bacterial viruses in vegetable fermentations. The results reported in this manuscript may lead to new fermentation technology that enables low salt fermentations and employs starter cultures to consistently produce a good quality product.

Technical Abstract: Previous studies using traditional biochemical methods to study the ecology of commercial sauerkraut fermentations revealed that four lactic acid bacteria species, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Lactobacillus plantarum, Pediococcus pentosaceus, and Lactobacillus brevis were the primary microorganisms in the fermentation. In this study, the microbial diversity in commercial sauerkraut fermentations was examined by nucleic acid-based detection methods. A total of 686 isolates were collected for analysis from four commercial fermentations in a 2 year study. Some of the isolates recovered have not been previously reported to be present in sauerkraut fermentations, including Leuconostoc citreum, Leuconostoc argentinum, Lactobacillus paraplantarum, Lactobacillus coryniformis, and Weissella sp. The newly identified species, Leuconostoc fallax was also present. In this study we recovered only 15 isolates of Lactobacillus brevis and 2 isolates of Pediococcus pentosaceus. The results indicate that ecology of commercial sauerkraut fermentations is more diverse than previously reported using traditional methods.