Lactococcus lactis is used extensively worldwide for the production of a variety of fermented dairy products. The ability of L. lactis to successfully grow and acidify milk has long been known to be reliant on a number of plasmid-encoded traits. The recent availability of low-cost, high-quality genome sequencing, and the quest for novel, technologically desirable characteristics, such as novel flavour development and increased stress tolerance, has led to a steady increase in the number of available lactococcal plasmid sequences. We will review both well-known and very recent discoveries regarding plasmid-encoded traits of biotechnological significance. The acquired lactococcal plasmid sequence information has in recent years progressed our understanding of the origin of lactococcal dairy starter cultures. Salient points on the acquisition and evolution of lactococcal plasmids will be discussed in this review, as well as prospects of finding novel plasmid-encoded functions.
University College Cork ->