How microbes adapt to a diversity of food niches
Konstantinos Papadimitriou, Bruno Pot, Effie Tsakalidou
Laboratory of Dairy Research, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Agricultural University of Athens, Iera Odos 75, 118 55 Athens, Greece
Lactic acid bacteria, yeasts and molds are employed as starters for the production of fermented foods. Adaptation of starter microorganisms in diverse food niches was accompanied by gene loss and gene gain events. Even though these events may differ between prokaryotic and eukaryotic starters, they reveal evolution towards high fermentation capacity. The accumulation of the fermentation end-products results in an antimicrobial environment ensuring both the dominance of the starter strains and the preservation of the food product. The ecosystem of food fermentations consists most times of simple or complex multispecies microbial populations. In several instances such microbial consortia co-evolved during adaptation to ferment foods and they are necessary as a whole for optimal fermentation and top quality products.