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Traditional Grain-Based vs. Commercial Milk Kefirs, How Different Are They?

Nejati, Fatemeh; Capitain, Charlotte C.; Krause, Jannike Lea; Kang, Gi-Ung; Riedel, René; Chang, Hyun-Dong; Kurreck, Jens; Junne, Stefan; Weller, Philipp; Neubauer, Peter

Traditional kefir, which is claimed for health-promoting properties, is made from natural grain-based kefir, while commercial kefirs are made of defined mixtures of microorganisms. Here, approaches are described how to discriminate commercial and traditional kefirs. These two groups of kefirs were characterized by in-depth analysis on the taxonomic and functional level. Cultivation-independent targeted qPCR as well as next-generation sequencing (NGS) proved a completely different microbial composition in traditional and commercial kefirs. While in the traditional kefirs, Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens was the dominant bacterial species, commercial kefirs were dominated by Lactococcus lactis. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) analysis using headspace-gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry also revealed drastic differences between commercial and traditional kefirs; the former built a separate cluster together with yogurt samples. Lactose and galactose concentrations in commercial kefirs were considerably higher than in traditional kefirs, which is important regarding their health properties for people who have specific intolerances. In summary, the analyzed commercial kefirs do not resemble the microbial community and metabolite characteristics of traditional grain-based kefir. Thus, they may deliver different functional effects to the consumers, which remain to be examined in future studies.
Published in: Applied Sciences, 10.3390/app12083838, MDPI