The Use of Molecular Methods in Dairy Microbiology

Approaches to studying microorganisms in food have undoubtedly changed. Advances in molecular biology have provided more information on food-associated bacteria and have also provided the scientific community with sound, reliable and effective methods for detection, identification and typing of microorganisms from food. The availability of such methods has made food scientists shift from a more traditional isolation and biochemical characterization of microbes from food, to a direct detection of microbes - not as microbes, but rather as "D/RNA from microbes" themselves. How have dairy microbiologists made use of these novel approaches so far? The main interest of dairy microbiologists is to study the diversity and dynamics of microorganisms in dairy produce and possibly to correlate the occurrence of certain microbial species and strains with desired flavor and sensorial traits of the products.

Various molecular methods can be used depending on the level of information required by research. Dairy microbiologists can be interested in identification, detection or typing. Identification and detection can benefit from the availability of both culture-dependent and culture-independent techniques, whereas typing is an analysis performed on isolates and is, thus, strictly related to culture-dependent methods.

Identification can be carried out at different levels. The dairy microbiologist can be interested in classifying his microbiota of interest at genus, species and sometimes strain level. Of course the methods to be employed can vary each time.

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