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Foods fermented with lactic acid bacteria are an important part of the human diet. Lactic acid bacteria play an essential role in the preservation of food raw materials and contribute to the nutritional, organoleptic, and health properties of food products and animal feed. The importance of lactic acid bacteria in the production of foods throughout the world has resulted in a continued scientific interest in these micro-organisms over the last two decades by academic research groups as well as by industry. This research has resulted in a number of important scientific breakthroughs and has led to new applications. The most recent of these advances is the establishment of the complete genome sequences of a number of different lactic acid bacterial species.
To communicate and stimulate the research on lactic acid bacteria and their applications, a series of tri-annual symposia on lactic acid bacteria was started in 1983 under the auspices of the Netherlands Society for Microbiology (NVVM), which was later also supported by the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS). The aim of these state-of-the-art symposia is to offer a unique platform for universities, institutes, and industry in this area of biotechnology, to present recent work, to obtain information on new developments, and to exchange views with colleagues from all over the world on scientific progress and applications. The growing number of participants at these symposia has been a clear demonstration of the interest of the international industrial and scientific community in this area of research.
The 7th Symposium is based on a number of plenary lectures that review the scientific progress of the lastyears in the different areas of research on lactic acid bacteria, and which are documented in this special issue of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.