#MonthlyMicrobe – Leuconostoc

5 November 2018

Microgenetics are looking forward to starting a monthly microbe, with a bit of information on a random microbe each month, particularly the lesser-known microbes! As many of us here at Microgenetics are fans of Korean food, particularly kimchi, this #MonthlyMicrobe is Leuconostoc.

Leuconostoc are Gram-positive cocci forming long chains, usually found associated with plant matter or fermenting food, such as milk or vegetables. They are members of Firmicute division of bacteria and member of the Lactobacillales order, with many different species such as L. carnosum, L. palmae and L. kimchii.

One of the unique aspects of Leuconostoc is that its optimum growth is usually 18 – 25°C but some species such as L. carnosum are capable of growing anaerobic environments at temperatures as low as 2°C.

Whilst some species such as L. carnosum have been associated with spoiled meats, many Leuconostoc species are associated with fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut, with a recent study using metagenomic sequencing highlighting that Leuconostoc species are the dominant genera during kimchi fermentation, along with other Lactobacillus and Weissella species.

Though the majority of Leuconostoc species have been described as non-pathogenic, there have been cases of Leuconostoc causing infections in humans – including liver and brain abscesses, catheter-related infections and bacteraemia, particularly in patients that are immunocompromised.

Got an idea for #MonthlyMicrobe? Tweet us @Microgenetics with the hashtag #MonthlyMicrobe.

Image credit: Fred Breidt, North Carolina State University