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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 Jun;64(6):2147-51.

Role of Streptococcus thermophilus MR-1C capsular exopolysaccharide in cheese moisture retention.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322-8700, USA.


Recent work by our group has shown that an exopolysaccharide (EPS)-producing starter pair, Streptococcus thermophilus MR-1C and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus MR-1R, can significantly increase moisture retention in low-fat mozzarella (D. B. Perry, D. J. McMahon, and C. J. Oberg, J. Dairy Sci. 80:799-805, 1997). The objectives of this study were to determine whether MR-1C, MR-1R, or both of these strains are required for enhanced moisture retention and to establish the role of EPS in this phenomenon. Analysis of low-fat mozzarella made with different combinations of MR-1C, MR-1R, and the non-EPS-producing starter culture strains S. thermophilus TA061 and Lactobacillus helveticus LH100 showed that S. thermophilus MR-1C was responsible for the increased cheese moisture level. To investigate the role of the S. thermophilus MR-1C EPS in cheese moisture retention, the epsE gene in this bacterium was inactivated by gene replacement. Low-fat mozzarella made with L. helveticus LH100 plus the non-EPS-producing mutant S. thermophilus DM10 had a significantly lower moisture content than did cheese made with strains LH100 and MR-1C, which confirmed that the MR-1C capsular EPS was responsible for the water-binding properties of this bacterium in cheese. Chemical analysis of the S. thermophilus MR-1C EPS indicated that the polymer has a novel basic repeating unit composed of D-galactose, L-rhamnose, and L-fucose in a ratio of 5:2:1.

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