About this Research Topic
Dairy starters are actively growing cultures of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) used in the production of a variety of dairy products including cheese, fermented milks, and cream butter. LAB starters are primarily used because of their capability to produce lactic acid from lactose, although the improvement of sensorial properties, inhibition of undesirable organisms, effects on the texture of dairy products, and contribution to health benefits are also recognized. Several factors can affect the activity of dairy starters, such as the composition of milk as growth medium, chemical inhibitors and bacteriophage attacks. In 1935, Hugh Whitehead and Geoffrey Cox identified the first bacteriophage specific for a lactic acid bacterium at the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute. They discovered lactococcal bacteriophage as the causal agent of the complete breakdown of acid production experienced when using single-strain starters. Since then, phages infecting every species of LAB used in the dairy industry have been isolated. Despite considerable efforts, phage infections of LAB starter cultures remain today as the main cause of delayed lactic acid production during milk fermentation processes in the dairy industry. The scope of this Research Topic is to make the reader aware of the relevance and implication of bacteriophage attacks in dairy fermentations, showing the LAB species most affected and the dairy fermented products more susceptible to this problem.
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