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Int J Food Microbiol. 1997 Apr 29;36(1):1-29.

Lactic acid bacteria of foods and their current taxonomy.

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Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Application of molecular genetic techniques to determine the relatedness of food-associated lactic acid bacteria has resulted in significant changes in their taxonomic classification. During the 1980s the genus Streptococcus was separated into the three genera Enterococcus, Lactococcus and Streptococcus. The lactic acid bacteria associated with foods now include species of the genera Carnobacterium, Enterococcus, Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Leuconostoc, Oenococcus, Pediococcus, Streptococcus, Tetragenococcus, Vagococcus and Weissella. The genus Lactobacillus remains heterogeneous with over 60 species (ymol% G+C content ranging from 33 to 55), of which about one-third are strictly heterofermentative. However, many changes have been made and reorganization of the genus along lines that do not follow previous morphological or phenotypic differentiation from Leuconostoc and Pediococcus is being studied. Phylogenetically belonging to the Actinomyces branch of the bacteria, Lactobacillus bifidus has been moved to the genus Bifidobacterium also on account of its greater than 50 mol% G+C content. It is therefore no longer considered one of the lactic acid bacteria senso strictu, which form part of the Clostridium branch of the bacteria. The new genus Weissella has been established to include one member of the genus Leuconostoc (Leuc, paramesenteroides) and heterofermentative lactobacilli with unusual interpeptide bridges in the peptidoglycan. Contrary to the clear-cut division of the streptococci, morphological and physiological features of Weissella do not directly support this grouping which now incorporates species that produce D(-)- as well as DL-lactate. The new genus Carnobacterium is morphologically similar to the lactobacilli, but it shares some physiological similarities (e.g. growth at pH 9.5) and a common phylogenetic branch with the genus Enterococcus. The review includes information on the taxonomic changes and the relationship of the bacteria of food fermentation and spoilage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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