Conversion of methionine to thiols by lactococci, lactobacilli, and brevibacteria

Benjamin Dias, Bart C Weimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Methanethiol has been strongly associated with desirable Cheddar cheese flavor and can be formed from the degradation of methionine (Met) via a number of microbial enzymes. Methionine γ-lyase is thought to play a major role in the catabolism of Met and generation of methanethiol in several species of bacteria. Other enzymes that have been reported to be capable of producing methanethiol from Met in lactic acid bacteria include cystathionine β-lyase and cystathionine γ-lyase. The objective of this study was to determine the production, stability, and activities of the enzymes involved in methanethiol generation in bacteria associated with cheese making. Lactococci and lactobacilli were observed to contain high levels of enzymes that acted primarily on cystathionine. Enzyme activity was dependent on the concentration of sulfur amino acids in the growth medium. Met aminotransferase activity was detected in all of the lactic acid bacteria tested and α-ketoglutarate was used as the amino group acceptor. In Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris S2, Met aminotransferase was repressed with increasing concentrations of Met in the growth medium. While no Met aminotransferase activity was detected in Brevibacterium linens BL2, it possessed high levels of L-methionine γ-lyase that was induced by addition of Met to the growth medium. Met demethiolation activity at pH 5.2 with 4% NaCl was not detected in cell extracts but was detected in whole cells. These data suggest that Met degradation in Cheddar cheese will depend on the organism used in production, the amount of enzyme released during aging, and the amount of Met in the matrix.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3320-3326
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology


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