Composition and Diversity of Natural Bacterial Communities in Mabisi, a Traditionally Fermented Milk

Himoonga Bernard Moonga*, Sijmen E. Schoustra, Joost van den Heuvel, Anita R. Linnemann, Md Sainur Samad, John Shindano, Eddy J. Smid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Many traditionally fermented milk products such as mabisi involve spontaneous fermentation, which can result in bacterial community composition variation due to selection pressure. The aim of this study was to determine the composition of bacterial communities in the different types of mabisi produced across Zambia and identify the factors that influence their composition. Samples of mabisi were collected across the country, and analyzed for pH and bacterial communities using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. We found that the bacterial community composition was dominated by members of two phyla, i.e., Firmicutes and Proteobacteria, from which the top 10 most abundant genera were Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Enterobacter, Citrobacter, Klebsiella, Kluyvera, Buttiauxella, Aeromonas, and Acinetobacter. The most dominant genus was Lactococcus, which was present in all types of mabisi produced from all regions. The mabisi products from traditional mabisi production regions (TMPRs) were dominated by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) whereas products from non-TMPRs were dominated by non-LAB species. Tonga mabisi, the most popular type of mabisi produced in non-TMPRs, had the most complex and diverse bacterial community composition compared to the other types, which included barotse, backslopping, creamy, and thick-tonga mabisi. Other factors that influenced bacterial community composition were geographical location, fermentation duration and pH while the type of fermentation container and producer did not. This study provides new insights that can be applied in starter culture development as well as microbial functionality studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1816
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2020


  • barotse
  • firmicutes
  • lactic acid bacteria
  • Lactococcus
  • microbial communities
  • selection pressure
  • tonga
  • Zambia
  • international
  • Plan_S-Compliant_TA


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