Spore formers are common spoilage-causing microorganisms in dairy products; however, their modes of spoilage (proteolysis, lipolysis, etc.) have not been described in detail for cultured dairy products such as sour cream and yogurt. The objective of the present study was to test the ability of spore-forming strains isolated from dairy environments for their spoilage-causing activities at typical sour cream (24°C) and yogurt (42°C) fermentation temperatures. A total of 25 spore-forming strains were isolated from different sources, including raw milk, pasteurizer balance tank, biofilms formed on heat exchangers, and milk powder. These strains were tested for proteolytic and lipolytic activities and for their ability to degrade phospholipids, common stabilizers (starch, gelatin, xanthan gum, pectin), and exopolysaccharides (EPS) at sour cream and yogurt fermentation temperatures. A higher percentage of positive strains was observed for selected activities at yogurt fermentation temperature compared with sour cream fermentation temperature. Identified proteolytic spore-forming strains, based on a skim milk agar method, were subsequently quantified for their level of proteolysis using non-casein nitrogen (NCN) content and sodium dodecyl sulfate-PAGE (SDS-PAGE). The proteolytic strains that showed the highest levels of proteolysis (highest percentages of NCN content) at 24°C were Bacillus mojavensis BC, Bacillus cereus DBC, Bacillus subtilis DBC, B. mojavensis DBC1, and Paenibacillus polymyxa DBC1. At 42°C the strains with the highest levels of proteolysis (highest percentages of NCN content) were B. subtilis DBC, B. mojavensis BC, B. mojavensis DBC1, B. cereus DBC, and Bacillus licheniformis DBC6. Results of SDS-PAGE demonstrated that proteolytic strains had primarily hydrolyzed β- and κ-CN. A viscometric method was used to evaluate the susceptibility of exopolysaccharides (EPS) to degradation by selected spore formers. This method helped to determine that EPS produced by commercial yogurt and sour cream cultures is susceptible to degradation by spore formers present in dairy environments.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Daisy Brand (Dallas, TX) for their financial support and South Dakota State University (Brookings) for use of their research facility.
- sour cream
- spore formers