Fura is a spontaneously fermented pearl millet product consumed in West Africa. The yeast species involved in the fermentation were identified by pheno- and genotypic methods to be Candida krusei, Kluyveromyces marxianus, Candida tropicalis, Candida rugosa, Candida fabianii, Candida norvegensis and Trichosporon asahii. C. krusei and K. marxianus were found to be the dominant species. Survival in pH 2.5 or in the presence of bile salts (0.3% (w/v) oxgall) and growth at 37°C were independently determined as indicators of the survival potential of the isolates during passage through the human gastrointestinal tract. Selected yeast species isolates were assessed for their probiotic potential. All of the examined yeast isolates survived and grew at human gastrointestinal conditions in pH 2.5, 0.3% (w/v) oxgall at 37°C. The effect on the transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) across polarized monolayers of intestinal epithelial cells of human (Caco-2) and porcine (IPEC-J2) origin, were determined. The Caco-2 cells and IPEC-J2 cells displayed clearly different relative TEER results. The strains of C. krusei, K. marxianus, C. rugosa and T. asahii were able to increase the relative TEER of Caco-2 monolayers after 48h. In comparison, the relative TEER of IPEC-J2 monolayers decreased when exposed to the same yeasts, even though T. asahii did not differ significantly from Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. boulardii which is used as a human probiotic. C. tropicalis resulted in the largest relative TEER decrease for both the human and the porcine cell model assays. Hyphal growth was observed for C. albicans and C. tropicalis after 48h of incubation with polarized Caco-2 monolayers, whereas this was not the case for the remaining yeast species. In the present study new yeast strains with potential probiotic properties have been isolated to be used potentially as starter cultures for fura production.
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