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J Dairy Sci. 2003 Feb;86(2):407-23.

Biochemistry, genetics, and applications of exopolysaccharide production in Streptococcus thermophilus: a review.

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Western Dairy Center, Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Utah State University, Logan 84322-8700, USA.


Many strains of Streptococcus thermophilus synthesize extracellular polysaccharides. These molecules may be produced as capsules that are tightly associated with the cell, or they may be liberated into the medium as a loose slime (i.e., "ropy" polysaccharide). Although the presence of exopolysaccharide does not confer any obvious advantage to growth or survival of S. thermophilus in milk, in situ production by this species or other dairy lactic acid bacteria typically imparts a desirable "ropy" or viscous texture to fermented milk products. Recent work has also shown that exopolysaccharide-producing S. thermophilus can enhance the functional properties of Mozzarella cheese, but they are not phage-proof. As our understanding of the genetics, physiology, and functionality of bacterial exopolysaccharides continues to improve, novel applications for polysaccharides and polysaccharide-producing cultures are likely to emerge inside and outside the dairy industry. This article provides an overview of biochemistry, genetics, and applications of exopolysaccharide production in S. thermophilus.

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