Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented vegetable food, the production of which involves brining of Korean cabbage, blending with various other ingredients (red pepper powder, garlic, ginger, salt-pickled seafood, etc.), and fermentation. Recently, kimchi has also become popular in the Western world because of its unique taste and beneficial properties such as antioxidant and antimutagenic activities, which are derived from the various raw materials and secondary metabolites of the fermentative microorganisms used during production. Despite these useful activities, analysis of the microbial community present in kimchi has received relatively little attention. The objective of this study was to evaluate the bacterial community structure from the raw materials, additives, and final kimchi product using the culture-independent method. Specifically, polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) was used to analyze the 16S rRNA partial sequences of the microflora. One primer set for bacteria, 341F(GC)-518R, reliably produced amplicons from kimchi and its raw materials, and these bands were clearly separated on a 35-65% denaturing gradient gel. Overall, 117 16S rRNA fragments were identified by PCR-DGGE analysis. Pediococcus pentosaceus, Leuconostoc citreum, Leuconostoc gelidum, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides were the dominant bacteria in kimchi. The other strains identified were Tetragenococcus, Pseudomonas, Weissella, and uncultured bacterium. Comprehensive analysis of these microorganisms could provide a more detailed understanding of the biologically active components of kimchi and help improve its quality. PCR-DGGE analysis can be successfully applied to a fermented food to detect unculturable or other species.
Keywords: Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis; bacterial community; kimchi; kimchi ingredients.