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Food Microbiol. 2011 May;28(3):465-71. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Oct 27.

Molecular analysis of bacterial communities in raw cow milk and the impact of refrigeration on its structure and dynamics.

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Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel.


The impact of refrigeration on raw cow milk bacterial communities in three farm bulk tanks and three dairy plant silo tanks was studied using two methods: DGGE and cloning. Both methods demonstrated that bacterial taxonomic diversity decreased during refrigeration. Gammaproteobacteria, especially Pseudomonadales, dominated the milk after refrigeration. Farm samples and dairy plant samples differed in their microbial community composition, the former showing prevalence of Gram-positive bacteria affiliated with the classes Bacilli, Clostridia and Actinobacteria, the latter showing prevalence of Gram-negative species belonging to the Gammaproteobacteria class. Actinobacteria prevalence in the farm milk samples immediately after collection stood at about 25% of the clones. A previous study had found that psychrotolerant Actinobacteria identified in raw cow milk demonstrated both lipolytic and proteolytic enzymatic activity. Thus, we conclude that although Pseudomonadales play an important role in milk spoilage after long periods of cold incubation, Actinobacteria occurrence may play an important role when assessing the quality of milk arriving at the dairy plant from different farms. As new cooling technologies reduce the initial bacterial counts of milk to very low levels, more sensitive and efficient methods to evaluate the bacterial quality of raw milk are required. The present findings are an important step towards achieving this goal.

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