Diversity of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Brazilian Water Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese
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The water buffalo mozzarella cheese is a typical Italian cheese which has been introduced in the thriving Brazilian market in the last 10 y, with good acceptance by its consumers. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) play an important role in the technological and sensory quality of mozzarella cheese. In this study, the aim was to evaluate the diversity of the autochthones viable LAB isolated from water buffalo mozzarella cheese under storage. Samples were collected in 3 independent trials in a dairy industry located in the southeast region of Brazil, on the 28th day of storage, at 4 oC. The LAB were characterized by Gram staining, catalase test, capacity to assimilate citrate, and production of CO2 from glucose. The diversity of LAB was evaluated by RAPD-PCR (randomly amplified polymorphic DNA-polymerase chain reaction), 16S rRNA gene sequencing, and by Vitek 2 system. Twenty LAB strains were isolated and clustered into 12 different clusters, and identified as Streptococcus thermophilus, Enterococcus faecium, Enterococcus durans, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, and Lactobacillus helveticus. Enterococcus species were dominant and citrate-positive. Only the strains of L. mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides and L. fermentum produced CO2 from glucose and were citrate-positive, while L. casei was only citrate positive. This is the first report which elucidates the LAB diversity involved in Brazilian water buffalo mozzarella cheese. Furthermore, the results show that despite the absence of natural whey cultures as starters in production, the LAB species identified are the ones typically found in mozzarella cheese.Practical Application Water buffalo mozzarella cheese, a typical Italian cheese, is traditionally produced using whole raw milk and natural whey cultures as starters. Its area of production, environmental conditions, traditional tools, and manufacturing processes grant unique sensory properties to the cheese, and these factors are consequently associated with the quality of the product. The isolated lactic acid bacteria (LAB) present in water buffalo mozzarella cheese include species of Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Leuconostoc, and Lactobacillus. Enterococcus species were dominant. The elucidation of the LAB diversity enables a better understanding of their role in cheese quality.