Link to bioRxiv paper:
Authors: Hultman, J., Johansson, P., Björkroth, J.
Microbial food spoilage is a complex phenomenon associated with the succession of the specific spoilage organisms (SSO) over the course of time. We performed a longitudinal metatranscriptomic study on a modified atmosphere packaged (MAP) beef product to increase understanding of the longitudinal behavior of a spoilage microbiome during shelf life and onward. Based on the annotation of the mRNA reads, we recognized three stages related to the active microbiome that were descriptive for the sensory quality of the beef: acceptable product (AP), early spoilage (ES) and late spoilage (LS). Both the 16S RNA taxonomic assignments from the total RNA and functional annotations of the active genes showed that these stages were significantly different from each other. However, the functional gene annotations showed more pronounced difference than the taxonomy assignments. Psychrotrophic lactic acid bacteria (LAB) formed the core of the SSO according to the transcribed reads. Leuconostoc species were the most abundant active LAB throughout the study period, whereas the activity of Streptococcaceae (mainly Lactococcus) increased after the product was spoiled. In the beginning of the experiment, the community managed environmental stress by cold-shock responses which were followed by the expression of the genes involved in managing oxidative stress. Glycolysis, pentose phosphate pathway and pyruvate metabolism were active throughout the study at a relatively stable level. However, the proportional activity of the enzymes in these pathways changed over time. For example, acetate kinase activity was characteristic for the AP stage whereas formate C-acetyltransferase transcription was associated with spoilage.
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