Postprint version. Published in Antoine van Leeuwenhoek, Volume 82, Issue 1-4, August 1, 2002, pages 29-58.
This review summarizes a collection of lactic acid bacteria that are now undergoing genomic sequencing and analysis. Summaries are presented on twenty different species, with each overview discussing the organisms fundamental and practical significance, environmental habitat, and its role in fermentation, bioprocessing, or probiotics. For those projects where genome sequence data were available by March 2002, summaries include a listing of key statistics and interesting genomic features. These efforts will revolutionize our molecular view of Gram-positive bacteria, as up to 15 genomes from the low GC content lactic acid bacteria are expected to be available in the public domain by the end of 2003. Our collective view of the lactic acid bacteria will be fundamentally changed as we rediscover the relationships and capabilities of these organisms through genomics.