Identification and characterization of the dominant lactobacilli isolated from koumiss in China.
BACKGROUND Airag, alcoholic sour-tasting beverage, has been traditionally prepared by Mongolian nomads who naturally ferment fresh mares' milk. Biochemical and microbiological compositions of airag samples collected in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and physiological characteristics of isolated lactic acid bacteria were investigated. METHODS Protein composition and biochemical composition were determined using sodium dodecyl sulfate-gel electrophoresis and high performance liquid chromatography, respectively. Lactic acid bacteria were identified based on nucleotide sequence of 16S rRNA gene. Carbohydrate fermentation, acid survival, bile resistance and acid production in skim milk culture were determined. RESULTS Equine whey proteins were present in airag samples more than caseins. The airag samples contained 0.10-3.36 % lactose, 1.44-2.33 % ethyl alcohol, 1.08-1.62 % lactic acid and 0.12-0.22 % acetic acid. Lactobacillus (L.) helveticus were major lactic acid bacteria consisting of 9 isolates among total 18 isolates of lactic acid bacteria. L. helveticus survived strongly in PBS, pH 3.0 but did not grow in MRS broth containing 0.1 % oxgall. A couple of L. helveticus isolates lowered pH of skim milk culture to less than 4.0 and produced acid up to more than 1.0 %. CONCLUSION Highly variable biochemical compositions of the airag samples indicated inconsistent quality due to natural fermentation. Airag with low lactose content should be favorable for nutrition, considering that mares' milk with high lactose content has strong laxative effect. The isolates of L. helveticus which produced acid actively in skim milk culture might have a major role in production of airag.