In recent years, there has been a strong focus on beneficial foods with probiotic microorganisms and functional organic substances. In this context, there is an increasing interest in the commercial use of kefir, since it can be marketed as a natural beverage that has health promoting bacteria. There are numerous commercially available kefir based-products. Kefir may act as a matrix in the effective delivery of probiotic microorganisms in different types of products. Also, the presence of kefir’s exopolysaccharides, known as kefiran, which has biological activity, certainly adds value to products. Kefiran can also be used separately in other food products and as a coating film for various food and pharmaceutical products. This article aims to update the information about kefir and its microbiological composition, biological activity of the kefir’s microflora and the importance of kefiran as a beneficial health substance.
Since the first report by Ishiwata in 1902 of a Bombyx mori infection, followed by the description by Berliner, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has become the main microorganism used in biological control. The application of Bt to combat invertebrates of human interest gained momentum with the growing demand for food free of chemical pesticides and with the implementation of agriculture methods that were less damaging to the environment. However, the mechanisms of action of these products have not been fully elucidated. There are two proposed models: the first is that Bt causes an osmotic imbalance in response to the formation of pores in a cell membrane, and the second is that it causes an opening of ion channels that activate the process of cell death. There are various ways in which Bt resistance can develop: changes in the receptors that do not recognize the Cry toxin, the synthesis of membrane transporters that eliminate the peptides from the cytosol and the development of regulatory mechanisms that disrupt the production of toxin receptors. Besides the potential for formulation of biopesticides and the use in developing genetically modified cultivars, recent studies with Bt have discussed promising applications in other branches of science. Chitinase, an enzyme that degrades chitin, increases the efficiency of Bt insecticides, and there has been of increasing interest in the industry, given that its substrate is extremely abundant in nature. Another promising field is the potential for Bt proteins to act against cancer cells. Parasporins, toxins of Bt that do not have an entomopathogenic effect, have a cytotoxic effect on the cells changed by some cancers. This demonstrates the potential of the microorganism and new opportunities opening for future applications.
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