Microbiological Study of Lactic Acid Bacteria in Kefir Grains by Culture-Dependent and Culture-Independent Methods

Food Microbiol. 2008 May;25(3):492-501. doi: 10.1016/j.fm.2008.01.003. Epub 2008 Jan 29.


Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) in different original kefir grains were first assessed using polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) by a culture-dependent way, and were further confirmed by DNA sequencing techniques. Results indicated that a combined method of cultivation with PCR-DGGE and subsequent DNA sequencing could successfully identify four LAB strains from three kefir grains from Taiwan (named Hsinchu, Mongolia and Ilan). Lactobacillus kefiri accounted, in the three kefir grains, for at least half of the isolated colonies while Lb. kefiranofaciens was the second most frequently isolated species. Leuconostoc mesenteroides was less frequently found but still in the three kefir grains conversely to Lactococcus lactis which based on culture-dependent isolation was only found in two of the kefir grains. It was interesting to find that all three kefir grains contain similar LAB species. Furthermore, the DGGE as a culture-independent method was also applied to detect the LAB strains. Results indicated that Lb. kefiranofaciens was found in all three kefir grains, whereas Lb. kefiri was only observed in Hsinchu kefir grain and Lc. lactis was found in both Mongolia and Ilan samples. Two additional strains, Pseudomonas spp. and E. coli, were also detected in kefir grains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colony Count, Microbial / methods*
  • Cultured Milk Products / microbiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel / methods
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Lactobacillus / classification
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification*
  • Lactococcus / classification
  • Lactococcus / isolation & purification
  • Leuconostoc / classification
  • Leuconostoc / isolation & purification
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA, Bacterial