Microbial population dynamics of kimchi, a fermented cabbage product

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2006 Apr;257(2):262-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2006.00186.x.


Lactic acid bacteria are known to perform significant roles in the fermentation of kimchi, a fermented cabbage product. However, the microbial population dynamics inherent to kimchi fermentation remain to be clearly elucidated. In this study, we have characterized the microbial dynamics via the identification of a total of 970 bacterial isolates, representing 15 species of the genera Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, and Weissella, all of which were primarily identified by PCR-based restriction enzyme analysis. These population dynamics appear to be influenced markedly by fermentation temperature. Distinct biphasic microbial growth was observed with preliminary 2-day incubation at 15 degrees C, conducted before main fermentation at -1 degrees C. Leuconostoc citreum, as well as Leuconostoc gasicomitatum, predominated during the first growth phase, whereas Weissella koreensis predominated during the second phase. By way of contrast, with preliminary 4-day incubation at 10 degrees C, only W. koreensis grew rapidly from the beginning of the process. Therefore, our findings suggest that a short incubation at 15 degrees C enhances the growth of the less psychrophilic Leuconostoc species, including Lc. citreum, thus delaying the growth of the predominant W. koreensis, which is a more adaptive species at -1 degrees C.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brassica / metabolism
  • Brassica / microbiology*
  • Fermentation
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / genetics
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / growth & development
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Lactobacillus / genetics
  • Lactobacillus / growth & development
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification*
  • Leuconostoc / genetics
  • Leuconostoc / growth & development
  • Leuconostoc / isolation & purification
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Species Specificity
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors