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By Nikki Hancocks

– Last updated on
05012021 at 11:43 GMT

Related tags:
Kefir, probiotics, microbiome

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The joint study by EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) and Cambridge University published in Nature Microbiology shows that the dominant species of Lactobacillus bacteria found in kefir grains cannot survive in milk on their own

However, when the species work together, the milk colonizes one at a time, with early members opening the niche for followers by providing metabolites like amino acids and lactate – each of which provides something the other needs to thrive / p>

“By working together you can do something that you cannot do alone,” says Kiran Patil, group leader and corresponding author of the paper. “It is particularly fascinating how L Kefiranofaciens, which dominates the kefir community, uses kefir grains to bind together all the other microbes it needs to survive – much like the ruling ring of the Lord of the Rings, one grain to bind them all together ”

Kefir is an increasingly popular fermented milk beverage that is sometimes referred to as a “superfood” for its wide-ranging health benefits, including improved digestion and lower blood pressure and sugar levels

You will need kefir grains from a different batch of kefir to make the product. The grains are added to the milk to ferment and grow Available nutrients and grow in size and number

For scientists, kefir provides an easy-to-cultivate microbial model community for studying metabolic interactions. And while kefir is very similar to yogurt in many ways – both are fermented or cultured dairy products full of “probiotics” – kefir’s microbial community is vastly larger than that of yogurt, including yeast and bacterial cultures

While scientists know that microorganisms often live in communities and depend on their fellow human beings to survive, mechanistic knowledge of this phenomenon has been quite limited.In the past, laboratory models were limited to two or three microbial species, so kefir – as Patil describes – a “goldilocks zone” with a complexity that is not too small (about 40 species) but not too unwieldy to study in detail

The researchers began their work by collecting 15 samples of kefir in different locations and seeing how each one grew

Sonja Blasche, Postdoc in the Patil group and joint lead author of the paper, said: “Our first step was to study how the samples grow. Kefir microbial communities have many member species with individual growth patterns that adapt to their current environment adapt. This means fast and slow growing species and some that change their speed according to nutrient availability

“This is not just for the kefir community, however, the kefir community has had plenty of lead time to coevolution to bring it to perfection as it has been sticking together for a long time”

To find out the extent and nature of the collaboration between kefir microbes, the researchers combined a variety of cutting-edge methods such as metabolomics (studying the chemical processes of metabolites) and transcriptomics (studying the genome -produced RNA transcripts) and mathematical modeling This not only revealed important molecular interaction agents such as amino acids, but also the opposing species dynamics between the grains and the milk content of kefir

“The kefir grain acts as a base camp for the kefir community, from where parishioners colonize the milk in a complex but organized and cooperative way,” says Kiran. “We see this phenomenon with kefir, and then we see that it is not kefir When you look at the whole world of microbiomes, collaboration is also a key to their structure and function ”

In fact, in another article by Kiran’s group, in collaboration with EMBL’s Bork group in Nature Ecology and Evolution, scientists combined data from thousands of microbial communities around the world – from soil to human gut – to do something similar Understanding Cooperative Relationships In this second work, researchers used advanced metabolic models to show that the co-existing groups of bacteria, groups that often coexist in different habitats, are either very competitive or very cooperative

This polarization has not yet been observed and sheds light on evolutionary processes that shape microbial ecosystems.While both competitive and cooperative communities predominate, the cooperation partners seem to be more successful in terms of higher abundance and occupation of different habitats

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World news – Cooperation between the USA and kefir: Thanks to microbial teamwork, the dream of “superfood” comes true