Indexed on: 29 Jul '08Published on: 29 Jul '08Published in: Applied and environmental microbiology
In situ gene expression studies are promising approaches for improving our understanding of the cheese microbial flora. This requires efficient RNA extraction methods, but studies of cheeses are scarce. The objective of the present study was to determine whether RNA samples compatible with quantitative mRNA transcript analyses can be obtained without separating the cells from the cheese matrix. In the method that we describe, the cellular processes are stopped at the very beginning of the procedure. When cheeses were produced with Lactococcus lactis LD61 as the only starter microorganism, the integrity of the purified RNA was good, even for 2-week-old cheeses that had been incubated at 30 degrees C. In addition, the RNA samples did not contain any traces of RNases, and the amount of genomic DNA was negligible. A good level of reproducibility could also be achieved. When real-time reverse transcription-PCR analyses were normalized to the total RNA concentration, the amounts of 16S and 23S rRNA transcripts were constant during the 2-week incubation period, whereas the amount of tuf mRNA transcripts decreased substantially. RNA samples obtained using the method described in this study were compared to samples obtained using the method described by Ulvé et al. (J. Appl. Microbiol., in press), which is based on separation of the cells from the cheese matrix. For most of the 29 genes investigated, the transcript abundance was the same for both types of samples. Differences were observed mainly for genes whose expression has previously been shown to be modified by heat, acid, or osmotic stresses, such as busAA and glnQ.