The microbial diversity of water kefir

Int J Food Microbiol. 2011 Dec 15;151(3):284-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2011.09.016. Epub 2011 Sep 24.


The microbial diversity of water kefir, made from a mixture of water, dried figs, a slice of lemon and sucrose was studied. The microbial consortia residing in the granules of three water kefirs of different origins were analyzed. A collection of 453 bacterial isolates was obtained on different selective/differential media. Bacterial isolates were grouped with randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD)-PCR analyses. One representative of each RAPD genotype was identified by comparative 16S rDNA gene sequencing. The predominant genus in water kefirs I and II was Lactobacillus, which accounted for 82.1% in water kefir I and 72.1% in water kefir II of the bacterial isolates. The most abundant species in water kefirs I and II were Lactobacillus hordei and Lb. nagelii followed by considerably lower numbers of Lb. casei. Other lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were identified as Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Lc. citreum in all three water kefirs. The most abundant species in water kefir III was Lc. mesenteroides (28%) and Lc. citreum (24.3%). A total of 57 LAB belonging to the species of Lb. casei, Lb. hordei, Lb. nagelii, Lb. hilgardii and Lc. mesenteroides were able to produce exopolysacchrides from sucrose. Non LABs were identified as Acetobacter fabarum and Ac. orientalis. The Acetobacter species were more prevalent in consortium III. Cluster analyses of RAPD-PCR patterns revealed an interspecies diversity among the Lactobacillus and Acetobacter strains. Aditionally, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lachancea fermentati, Hanseniaospora valbyensis and Zygotorulaspora florentina were isolated and identified by comparison of partial 26S rDNA sequences and FTIR spectroscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Acetobacter / genetics
  • Acetobacter / isolation & purification
  • Cultured Milk Products / chemistry
  • Cultured Milk Products / microbiology*
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Lactobacillus / classification
  • Lactobacillus / genetics
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification*
  • Leuconostoc / classification
  • Leuconostoc / genetics
  • Leuconostoc / isolation & purification*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA Technique
  • Yeasts / classification
  • Yeasts / isolation & purification


  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S