Aims: To evaluate interactions between Lactobacillus sakei and coagulase negative cocci (CNC) (Staphylococcus xylosus and Kocuria varians) and to investigate the influence of these interactions on their own proteolytic activity. Methods and Results: Interactions occurring between strains of Lact. sakei and CNC were assessed by spectrophotometric analysis. The growth of 35 strains of Lact. sakei, used as indicators, was compared to that obtained combining the same strains with growing cells or cell-free supernatants of 20 CNC (18 Staph. xylosus and 2 K. varians). The proteolytic activity expressed by single strains or by their combinations was assessed on sarcoplasmic protein extracts by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The results evidenced that interactions are able to affect not only the growth but also the in vitro proteolytic activity of Lact. sakei and CNC used in combination. Conclusions: A relationship between the presence of interactions among useful strains and the strength of technological characteristics, such as proteolysis, was defined. Significance and Impact of the Study: The study highlighted that CNC are able to stimulate the growth of some Lact. sakei strains. At the same time, this interaction positively influences the proteolytic activity of strains used in combination. Given the importance of proteolysis during the ripening of fermented meats, this phenomenon should be taken into account to select meat starter cultures.
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