The publication is the culmination of a multiyear effort by the Lactic Acid Bacteria Genome Consortium, a group of at least a dozen academic organizations formed in 2001. Paul Richardson, DOE JGI Genomic Technologies Program head, said that the functional classification embraced a variety of industrially important genera, including Lactococcus, Enterococcus, Oenococcus, Pediococcus, Streptococcus, Leuconostoc, and Lactobacillus species. "The sequence of these diverse species offered a window into the sugar metabolism and energy conversion systems of LAB, and the evolution of these systems, which helped identify key enzymes involved in the production of end products including acetic acid, lactic acid, ethanol, and CO2."
"This work represents a hallmark in the genomic and bioinformatic characterization of lactic acid bacteria that have an impact on food, health, and agriculture," said Willem M. de Vos, Professor of Microbiology and Program Director of the Wageningen Center for Food Sciences in Holland. "In a heroic effort, their publication more than doubles the number of lactic acid bacterial genomes that are publicly available and provides the research community with a wealth of high-quality data that can be used to understand and improve starter cultures for dairy, meat, and wine fermentations; probiotic cultures; and other industrial applications. The extensive bioinformatic analyses by world experts adds to the impact of the genomic data and provides new hypotheses on how microbial genomes evolve by mechanisms of genomic loss and horizontal gene acquisitions."