Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Department name when degree awarded

Nutrition and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Bart C. Weimer


Bart C. Weimer


Donald McMahon


Marie Walsh


Deloy Hendricks


Jon Takemoto


Recent studies suggest aromatic amino acid catabolism by starter lactococci and flavor adjunct bacteria have a significant impact on off-flavor development during Cheddar cheese ripening. We hypothesized that a flavor adjunct bacterium, Brevibacterium linens BL2, produces off-flavor compounds from aromatic amino acid metabolism that will have a detrimental impact on cheese flavor.

The mechanism of tryptophan (Trp) catabolism in Brevibacterium linens BL2, was investigated in a chemically defined medium during incubation in laboratory conditions (no carbohydrate, pH 6.50, 220 rpm, 25°C) and cheese-like conditions (no carbohydrate, 4% NaCl, static incubation, l5°C). In laboratory conditions, metabolic studies and enzyme assays confirmed that Trp was converted to kynurenine and anthranilic acid. However, cells incubated in cheese-like conditions did not utilize Trp, indicating that these enzymes are not likely to be involved in formation of Trp compounds associated with off-flavors in Cheddar cheese.

In an attempt to verify the metabolic activity of the cells during incubation by monitoring the amino acid metabolism in chemically defined medium inoculated with B. linens BL2, a capillary electrophoresis-laser-induced fluorescence method was developed that could separate, detect, and quantitate 18 amino acids within 38 min. The data indicated that B. linens BL2 was metabolically active. Presumably, the cells will be metabolically active and metabolize amino acids in cheese as well.

The ability to determine the Trp metabolic activity of B. linens BL2 in cheese, and to quantify Trp catabolic compounds in cheese during ripening, requires a quantitative extraction procedure. An analytical method was developed to extract and quantify aromatic amino acids and Trp catabolites from cheese using capillary electrophoresis. Methanol was used to extract Cheddar cheese made with Lactococcus lactis S3 alone and in combination with B. linens BL2 to quantitatively determine the influence of BL2 on the occurrence of aromatic catabolites. All cheeses contained aromatic amino acids, indole acetic acid, and indole. The concentration and time taken for development of these compounds were significantly decreased or delayed by the addition of B. linens BL2. After 6 months of aging, the concentrations of Trp catabolites were significantly lower in cheese made with B. linens BL2. Addition of BL2 did not directly contribute to off-flavors derived from Trp catabolism in Cheddar cheese. Therefore, the hypothesis was rejected.