• Mesophilic sporeformers identified in whey powder by using shotgun metagenomic sequencing

      McHugh, Aoife; Feehily, Conor; Tobin, John; Fenelon, Mark; Hill, Colin; Cotter, Paul D.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; 14/F/883; 11/P1/1137 (American Society for Microbiology, 01/10/2018)
      Spoilage and pathogenic spore-forming bacteria are a major cause of concern for producers of dairy products. Traditional agar-based detection methods employed by the dairy industry have limitations with respect to their sensitivity and specificity. The aim of this study was to identify low-abundance sporeformers in samples of a powdered dairy product, whey powder, produced monthly over 1 year, using novel culture-independent shotgun metagenomics-based approaches. Although mesophilic sporeformers were the main target of this study, in one instance thermophilic sporeformers were also targeted using this culture-independent approach. For comparative purposes, mesophilic and thermophilic sporeformers were also tested for within the same sample using culture-based approaches. Ultimately, the approaches taken highlighted differences in the taxa identified due to treatment and isolation methods. Despite this, low levels of transient, mesophilic, and in some cases potentially pathogenic sporeformers were consistently detected in powder samples. Although the specific sporeformers changed from one month to the next, it was apparent that 3 groups of mesophilic sporeformers, namely, Bacillus cereus, Bacillus licheniformis/Bacillus paralicheniformis, and a third, more heterogeneous group containing Brevibacillus brevis, dominated across the 12 samples. Total thermophilic sporeformer taxonomy was considerably different from mesophilic taxonomy, as well as from the culturable thermophilic taxonomy, in the one sample analyzed by all four approaches. Ultimately, through the application of shotgun metagenomic sequencing to dairy powders, the potential for this technology to facilitate the detection of undesirable bacteria present in these food ingredients is highlighted.