• Analysis of Health Benefits Conferred by Lactobacillus Species from Kefir

      Cotter, Paul D.; Slattery, Conor; O'Toole, Paul W.; Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; Science Foundation Ireland; APC Microbiome Ireland; Vistamilk; Enterprise Ireland; European Union; 818368 (MDPI, 2019-06-01)
      Lactobacilli are among the most common microorganisms found in kefir; a traditional fermented milk beverage produced locally in many locations around the world. Kefir has been associated with a wide range of purported health benefits; such as antimicrobial activity; cholesterol metabolism; immunomodulation; anti-oxidative effects; anti-diabetic effects; anti-allergenic effects; and tumor suppression. This review critically examines and assesses these claimed benefits and mechanisms with regard to particular Lactobacillus species and/or strains that have been derived from kefir; as well as detailing further potential avenues for experimentation.
    • The Microbiota and Health Promoting Characteristics of the Fermented Beverage Kefir

      Bourrie, Benjamin C. T.; Willing, Benjamin P.; Cotter, Paul D.; Science Foundation Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Canada Research Chairs Program; SFI/11/PI/1137; SFI/12/RC/2273; 2014025 (Frontiers Media S. A., 04/05/2016)
      Kefir is a complex fermented dairy product created through the symbiotic fermentation of milk by lactic acid bacteria and yeasts contained within an exopolysaccharide and protein complex called a kefir grain. As with other fermented dairy products, kefir has been associated with a range of health benefits such as cholesterol metabolism and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition, antimicrobial activity, tumor suppression, increased speed of wound healing, and modulation of the immune system including the alleviation of allergy and asthma. These reports have led to increased interest in kefir as a focus of research and as a potential probiotic-containing product. Here, we review those studies with a particular emphasis on the microbial composition and the health benefits of the product, as well as discussing the further development of kefir as an important probiotic product.
    • Sequencing-Based Analysis of the Bacterial and Fungal Composition of Kefir Grains and Milks from Multiple Sources

      Marsh, Alan J.; O'Sullivan, Orla; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Cotter, Paul D.; Science Foundation Ireland; 07/CE/B1368 (PLOS, 19/07/2013)
      Kefir is a fermented milk-based beverage to which a number of health-promoting properties have been attributed. The microbes responsible for the fermentation of milk to produce kefir consist of a complex association of bacteria and yeasts, bound within a polysaccharide matrix, known as the kefir grain. The consistency of this microbial population, and that present in the resultant beverage, has been the subject of a number of previous, almost exclusively culture-based, studies which have indicated differences depending on geographical location and culture conditions. However, culture-based identification studies are limited by virtue of only detecting species with the ability to grow on the specific medium used and thus culture-independent, molecular-based techniques offer the potential for a more comprehensive analysis of such communities. Here we describe a detailed investigation of the microbial population, both bacterial and fungal, of kefir, using high-throughput sequencing to analyse 25 kefir milks and associated grains sourced from 8 geographically distinct regions. This is the first occasion that this technology has been employed to investigate the fungal component of these populations or to reveal the microbial composition of such an extensive number of kefir grains or milks. As a result several genera and species not previously identified in kefir were revealed. Our analysis shows that the bacterial populations in kefir are dominated by 2 phyla, the Firmicutes and the Proteobacteria. It was also established that the fungal populations of kefir were dominated by the genera Kazachstania, Kluyveromyces and Naumovozyma, but that a variable sub-dominant population also exists.