Characterization of the Bacterial Composition of 47 Fermented Foods in Sweden
Journal article, 2023

Fermentation has long been utilized to preserve and enhance the flavor and nutritional value of foods. Recently, fermented foods have gained popularity, reaching new consumer groups due to perceived health benefits. However, the microbial composition of many fermented foods re-mains unknown. Here, we characterized the bacterial composition, diversity, and richness of 47 fermented foods available in Sweden, including kombucha, water kefir, milk kefir, yogurt, plant-based yogurt alternatives, kimchi, sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables. Via 16S rRNA gene sequencing, we identified 2497 bacteria (amplicon sequence variants). The bacterial composition was strongly associated with the type of fermented food, and lactic acid bacteria and/or acetic acid bacteria dominated most samples. However, each fermented food had a unique composition, with kombucha and water kefir having the highest diversity across and within samples. Few bacteria were abundant in multiple foods and food groups. These were Streptococcus thermophilus in yogurts and plant-based yoghurts; Lactococcus lactis in milk kefirs and one water kefir; and Lactiplantibacillus plantarum in kimchi, sauerkraut, and fermented cucumber. The broad range of fermented foods included in this study and their diverse bacterial communities warrant further investigation into the implications of microbial compositions for product traits and potential impact on human health.

bacterial composition

fermented foods

fermented beverages



Marie Palmnäs

Chalmers, Life Sciences, Food and Nutrition Science

Aline de Santa Izabel


Johan Dicksved

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Rikard Landberg

Chalmers, Life Sciences, Food and Nutrition Science

Umeå University


23048158 (eISSN)

Vol. 12 20 3827


Formas (2018-02193), 2018-12-01 -- 2019-11-30.

Subject Categories

Food Science

Food Engineering

Nutrition and Dietetics





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