• Symposium review: Lactococcus lactis from nondairy sources: Their genetic and metabolic diversity and potential applications in cheese

      McAuliffe, Olivia; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Dairy Research Ireland; EU Marie Curie Actions Clarin Co-Fund; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology; European Union (Elsevier, 2018-02-13)
      The widespread dissemination of species of the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) group in different environments testifies to their extraordinary niche adaptability. Members of the LAB are present on grass and other plant material, in dairy products, on human skin, and in the gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts. The selective pressure imparted by these specific environments is a key driver in the genomic diversity observed between strains of the same species deriving from distinct habitats. Strains that are exploited in the dairy industry for the production of fermented dairy products are often referred to as “domesticated” strains. These strains, which initially may have occupied a nondairy niche, have become specialized for growth in the milk environment. In fact, comparative genome analysis of multiple LAB species and strains has revealed a central trend in LAB evolution: the loss of ancestral genes and metabolic simplification toward adaptation to nutritionally rich environments. In contrast, “environmental” strains, or those from raw milk, plants, and animals, exhibit diverse metabolic capabilities and lifestyle characteristics compared with their domesticated counterparts. Because of the limited number of established dairy strains used in fermented food production today, demand is increasing for novel strains, with concerted efforts to mine the microbiota of natural environments for strains of technological interest. Many studies have concentrated on uncovering the genomic and metabolic potential of these organisms, facilitating comparative genome analysis of strains from diverse environments and providing insight into the natural diversity of the LAB, a group of organisms that is at the core of the dairy industry. The natural biodiversity that exists in these environments may be exploited in dairy fermentations to expand flavor profiles, to produce natural “clean label” ingredients, or to develop safer products.