• Symposium review: Genomic investigations of flavor formation by dairy microbiota

      McAuliffe, Olivia; Kilcawley, Kieran; Stefanovic, Ewelina; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme; Dairy Research Ireland; IRCSET; EU Marie Curie Actions Clarin Co-Fund (Elsevier, 2018-10-19)
      Flavor is one of the most important attributes of any fermented dairy product. Dairy consumers are known to be willing to experiment with different flavors; thus, many companies producing fermented dairy products have looked at culture manipulation as a tool for flavor diversification. The development of flavor is a complex process, originating from a combination of microbiological, biochemical, and technological aspects. A key driver of flavor is the enzymatic activities of the deliberately inoculated starter cultures, in addition to the environmental or “nonstarter” microbiota. The contribution of microbial metabolism to flavor development in fermented dairy products has been exploited for thousands of years, but the availability of the whole genome sequences of the bacteria and yeasts involved in the fermentation process and the possibilities now offered by next-generation sequencing and downstream “omics” technologies is stimulating a more knowledge-based approach to the selection of desirable cultures for flavor development. By linking genomic traits to phenotypic outputs, it is now possible to mine the metabolic diversity of starter cultures, analyze the metabolic routes to flavor compound formation, identify those strains with flavor-forming potential, and select them for possible commercial application. This approach also allows for the identification of species and strains not previously considered as potential flavor-formers, the blending of strains with complementary metabolic pathways, and the potential improvement of key technological characteristics in existing strains, strains that are at the core of the dairy industry. An in-depth knowledge of the metabolic pathways of individual strains and their interactions in mixed culture fermentations can allow starter blends to be custom-made to suit industry needs. Applying this knowledge to starter culture research programs is enabling research and development scientists to develop superior starters, expand flavor profiles, and potentially develop new products for future market expansion.
    • A Systems-Wide Analysis of Proteolytic and Lipolytic Pathways Uncovers The Flavor-Forming Potential of The Gram-Positive Bacterium Macrococcus caseolyticus subsp. caseolyticus

      Mazhar, Shahneela; Kilcawley, Kieran; Hill, Colin; McAuliffe, Olivia; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Program; 2015055 (Frontiers Media SA, 2020-07-07)
      Macrococcus caseolyticus subsp. caseolyticus is a Gram-positive, commensal organism documented to be present as a component of the secondary microflora in fermented foods such as Ragusano and Fontina cheeses and Cantonese sausage. In these products, the organism appears to play a role in ripening and the development of the final organoleptic qualities. However, the role of this organism in flavor generation is not well understood. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the role of M. caseolyticus subsp. caseolyticus in flavor compound formation through an examination of enzymatic, metabolomic and genomic data. A bank of M. caseolyticus subsp. caseolyticus strains derived from a variety of niches were examined. Enzyme activities analyzed comprised those of the proteolytic and lipolytic cascades including cell-envelope proteinase (CEP), peptidases, esterases, lipases, aminotransferases and glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH). Strain to strain variation was observed, often associated with niche. All strains, except those isolated from non-dairy sources, demonstrated high CEP activity. Such high CEP activity associated with dairy strains implies the importance of this characteristic in the adaptation of these strains to a dairy-specific niche. However, limited downstream peptidolytic activity, in addition to a limited ability to generate free amino acids (FAA) was observed across all strains, indicating weak ability of this organism to generate amino-acid derived flavor compounds. Interestingly, the strains with high CEP activity also demonstrated high esterase activity and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of the volatile compounds produced when these strains were grown in lactose-free milk demonstrated differences in the range and types of volatiles produced. In contrast to this metabolic versatility, comparative genome analysis revealed the distribution of components of the proteolytic and lipolytic system in these strains to be conserved. Overall, this study demonstrates the potential of M. caseolyticus subsp. caseolyticus to generate diverse volatile flavor compounds. Additionally, the identification of the highly active strain-specific cell wall bound caseolytic proteases deriving extensive casein hydrolysis, serves as a promising avenue which can be potentially harnessed in the future to produce greater and more diverse flavor compounds.