Streptococcus thermophilus is the most important thermophilic dairy starter, and is widely used in the dairy industry. Streptococcus thermophilus exopolysaccharides received wide attention over recent decades, because they can improve the properties of the dairy product and confer beneficial health effects. The understanding of the regulatory and biosynthetic mechanisms of EPS will improve the EPS biosynthesis, increase the productivity of EPSs, and develop EPSs with desirable properties. The structure of EPSs is the focus of this study. Revealing the structure-function relationship can lead to increase the knowledge base and from there to increased research of EPS. The EPS yield is a key limiting factor in the research and utilization of EPS. In the present review, biosynthetic pathways and genetics of S. thermophilus EPSs were described and reviewed. At the same time, functional properties and applications of EPS, and strategies for enhancement of EPS production are discussed.
Keywords: Biosynthesis; Diversity; Exopolysaccharides; Function; Streptococcus thermophilus.