PCR-based denaturing gradient gel electrophoretictypification and identification of the microbial consortium present in kefir grains
Kefir grains have a complex microbiological composition that makes it difficult to obtain an optimal and constant starter culture necessary for the production of a quality Kefir beverage. The microbes present in the grains have in the past been identified using traditional methods such as growth on selective media and morphological and physiological characteristics. The aim of this study was to typify and identify the complex microbial community present in mass cultured, traditionally cultured and Irish Kefir grains by PCR amplification of a variable part of the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes in Eubacteria and yeasts and resolving these PCR fragments by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Unique PCR-based DGGE fingerprints were obtained for the Eubacterial and yeast species present in the three different grain types. A part of the Eubacterial and yeast rRNA genes were sequenced and compared to sequences available on NCBI. The phylogenetic relatedness of the amplified and sequenced lactobacilli was determined. Different bands in the Eubacterial and the yeast DGGE profiles of the mass cultured grains were identified to species level. A DGGE marker was constructed providing a quick reference for the identification of the members of the Eubacterial microbial population in mass cultured Kefir grains.