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International Journal of Food Microbiology
Vol. 236, 2016, Pages: 17–25

Microbial ecology involved in the ripening of naturally fermented llama meat sausages. A focus on lactobacilli diversity

Cecilia Fontana, Daniela Bassi, Constanza López, Vincenza Pisacane, Maria Claudia Otero, Edoardo Puglisi, Annalisa Rebecchi, Pier Sandro Cocconcelli, Graciela Vignolo

Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria INTA-EEA, Ruta Provincial 301 Km 32, Famaillá, Tucumán, Argentina.


Llama represents for the Andean regions a valid alternative to bovine and pork meat and thanks to the high proteins and low fat content; it can constitute a good product for the novel food market. In this study, culture-dependent and independent methods were applied to investigate the microbial ecology of naturally fermented llama sausages produced in Northwest Argentina. Two different production technologies of llama sausage were investigated: a pilot-plant scale (P) and an artisanal one (A). Results obtained by High-Throughput Sequencing (HTS) of 16S rRNA amplicons showed that the production technologies influenced the development of microbial communities with a different composition throughout the entire fermentation process. Both sequencing and microbiological counts demonstrated that Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) contributed largely to the dominant microbiota. When a total of 230 isolates were approached by RAPD-PCR, presumptive LAB strains from P production exhibited an initial variability in RAPD fingerprints switching to a single profile at the final of ripening, while A production revealed a more heterogeneous RAPD pattern during the whole fermentation process. The constant presence of Lactobacillus sakei along the fermentation in both productions was revealed by HTS and confirmed by species-specific PCR from isolated strains. The technological characterization of Lb. sakei isolates evidenced their ability to grow at 15 °C, pH 4.5 and 5% NaCl (95%). Most strains hydrolyzed myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins. Bacteriocins encoding genes and antimicrobial resistance were found in 35% and 42.5% of the strains, respectively. An appropriate choice of a combination of autochthonous strains in a starter formulation is fundamental to improve and standardize llama sausages safety and quality.

Keywords: Llama meat; Fermented sausages; High-Throughput Sequencing (HTS); Lactobacillus sakei; RAPD; Technological properties.

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