Author(s): Cerning J
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Abstract The production of homopolysaccharides (dextrans, mutans) and heteropolysaccharides by lactic acid bacteria, their chemical composition, their structure and their synthesis are outlined. Mutans streptococci, which include Streptococcus mutans and S. sobrinus produce soluble and insoluble alpha-glucans. The latter may contain as much as 90\% alpha-1-3 linkages and possess a marked ability to promote adherence to the smooth tooth surface causing dental plaque. Dextrans produced by Leuconostoc mesenteroides are high molecular weight alpha-glucans having 1-6, 1-4 and 1-3 linkages, varying from slightly to highly branched; 1-6 linkages are predominant. Emphasis is put on exopolysaccharide producing thermophilic and mesophilic lactic acid bacteria, which are important in the dairy industry. The produced polymers play a key role in the rheological behaviour and the texture of fermented milks. One of the main problems in this field is the transitory nature of the thickening trait. This instability is not yet completely understood. Controversial results exist on the sugar composition of the slime produced, but galactose and glucose have always been identified with galactose predominating in most cases.
This article was published in FEMS Microbiol Rev
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