Sulfur metabolism in bacteria associated with cheese

Bart C Weimer, Kimberly Seefeldt, Benjamin Dias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Metabolism of sulfur in bacteria associated with cheese has long been a topic of interest. Volatile sulfur compounds, specifically methanethiol, are correlated to desirable flavor in Cheddar cheese, but their definitive role remains elusive. Only recently have enzymes been found that produce this compound in bacteria associated with cheese making. Cystathionine β- and γ-lyase are found in lactic acid bacteria and are capable of producing methanethiol from methionine. Their primary function is in the metabolism of cysteine. Methionine γ-lyase produces methane thiol from methionine at a higher efficiency than the cystathionine enzymes. This enzyme is found in brevibacteria, bacilli, and pseudomonads. Addition of brevibacteria containing this enzyme improves Cheddar cheese flavor. Despite recent progress in sulfur metabolism more information is needed before cheese flavor associated with sulfur can be predicted or controlled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-261
Number of pages15
JournalAntonie van Leeuwenhoek, International Journal of General and Molecular Microbiology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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