In the present study, we investigated the bacterial diversity of aMasi, a traditional South African fermented milk product, by 16S rRNA clone library and Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis. Two hundred and eighty two clones from clone library were isolated and identified from aMasi, prepared from the milk of four cows from one herd in the EkuPindiseni Community, North West of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal Province. The majority of the identified sequences corresponded to lactic acid bacteria (LAB), with the genus Lactococcus as major representative. The speciesLactococcus lactis accounted for 179 of the identified clones. In addition, several species of Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc and Enterococcus were detected. Furthermore, several clones belonging to Acinetobacter, Aeromonas and genera within the Enterobacteriaceaewere detected. It is important to note that human pathogens such as Klebsiella pneumoniae were identified in aMasi in the present study. Conversely, zoonotic bacteria such as Brucella abortus and Mycobacterium bovis were not detected in aMasi, although, they are present in the cattle population in the study area. Thirty (30) clones were identified as uncultured bacterial clones. Nine DGGE bands were successfully sequenced, of which four were classified as L. lactis with other bands belonging to lactobacilli, Clostridium acidurici, Enterobacter sp., Acinetobacter baumannii and an un-culturable bacterium. Even though there was some discrepancy between the two culture independent methods used to study the bacteriological community in aMasi, a general conclusion can be drawn,L. lactis may be considered as the dominant bacterium within a diverse bacterial community in this locally-produced dairy product.
Key words: South Africa, aMasi, fermented milk, microbial diversity, clone library, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE).
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