May 18, 2024

Lactobacillus brevis: The Superstar Fermentation Microbe

Fermentation has experienced a significant resurgence in recent years, becoming a central technique for producing and preserving various foods and beverages like craft beers, kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut, and pickles. Lactic acid fermentation is one of the most popular forms of fermentation.

Lactic acid, also known as lactate, is commonly associated with the burning sensation felt in muscles during exercise, signaling the body to lower the intensity of physical activity.

In the context of fermentation and food preservation, lactic acid is produced by lactic acid bacteria, which create a low pH environment that prevents food spoilage. While some lactic acid bacteria exclusively produce lactic acid, others produce lactic acid alongside a wide range of organic acids that further acidify the environment and eliminate oxygen. One such bacterium is Lactobacillus brevis.

Under a microscope, Lactobacillus brevis appears as a rod-shaped microorganism with rounded ends. It is Gram positive, meaning it stains indigo when tested with the Gram staining technique. This bacterium thrives at temperatures between 30°C and 40°C and a slightly acidic pH range of 4-6.

Lactobacillus brevis is particularly exceptional when it comes to fermentation, as it produces lactic acid, acetic acid, and carbon dioxide during the process.

But why might you want a microbe that produces organic acids and carbon dioxide?

Lactobacillus brevis can naturally be found in several food products, with sauerkraut being one of them. Traditional sauerkraut has long been recognized as a good source of lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria are also present in pickles, kefir made from tibicos grains, and are a natural component of the gut microbiome.

During the preparation of sauerkraut, Lactobacillus brevis and other lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactococcus and Leuconostoc species, assist in fermenting cabbage. In this process, the bacteria break down sugars in the cabbage, producing carbon dioxide and lactic acid, which give sauerkraut its unique characteristics.

When you open a jar of sauerkraut, you’ll notice a pleasing fizzing sound and appearance. This effervescence is a result of the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation. The tangy, slightly sour or acidic taste is attributed to the presence of lactic acid and acetic acid.

Additionally, because these acids are organic, they naturally lower the pH of the fermented cabbage, creating an environment that discourages the growth of microorganisms that prefer a neutral pH. Lactic acid bacteria also produce antimicrobial compounds, such as bacteriocins, which inhibit the growth of other contaminating bacteria. These effects make fermentation an excellent preservation technique.

Overall, Lactobacillus brevis plays a vital role in fermentation, producing lactic acid, acetic acid, and carbon dioxide, and contributing to the unique taste and preservation qualities of fermented foods like sauerkraut. Understanding the characteristics and benefits of this fermentation superstar can enhance our appreciation for the role of microbes in food production and preservation.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it