Article ID: 2014-018
A bacterial community analysis, using a culture-independent method (polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis), detected 17 species of bacteria including species of the genera Tetragenococcus, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Weissella Halanaerobium, Clostridium, and Sphingomonas in a traditional salty-fermented fish paste known as pla-ra or pa-daek in Thailand and Laos, which is used as a storage-stable multi-purpose seasoning. The representative genus of lactic acid bacteria seemed to vary in the 10 products collected from Thailand and Laos. Tetragenococci were common in products from central Thailand and Vientiane in Laos which had salinities of not less than 11% and pH values ranging from 5.6 to 6.1. However, lactobacilli were common in products from northern Thailand which had the lowest salinities (8.3–8.6%) and pH values (4.5–4.8) of all the samples examined. Two Lactobacillus and one Tetragenococcus species were detected in one product from northeastern Thailand containing 10% salt. These results suggest that salinity in pla-ra/pa-daek is an important determinant of the representative genus of lactic acid bacteria such as, Tetragenococcus or Lactobacillus. Additionally, differences in the acidity between these two groups seemed to be related to the production of d-/l-lactic acid in the lactic acid bacteria in each product. This is the first study to report a correlation between bacterial community structure and taste components in pla-ra/pa-daek products from various regions. This scientific work on a traditional fermented food will be useful in helping local producers meet differing consumer preferences in various regions.