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Int J Food Microbiol. 2011 Sep 1;149(1):19-27. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2011.04.026. Epub 2011 May 8.

New insights into physiology and metabolism of Propionibacterium freudenreichii.

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  • 1INRA, UMR1253 Science et Technologie du Lait et de l'Œuf, 65 rue de Saint Brieuc, 35000 Rennes, France.


Dairy propionibacteria are Actinobacteria, mainly isolated from dairy environments. Propionibacterium freudenreichii has been used for a long time as a ripening culture in Swiss-type cheese manufacture, and is more and more considered for its potent probiotic effects. This review summarises the knowledge on the main P. freudenreichii pathways and the main features explaining its hardiness, and focuses on recent advances concerning its applications as a cheese ripening agent and as a probiotic for human health. Propionibacteria have a peculiar metabolism, characterised by the formation of propionic acid as main fermentation end-product. They have few nutritional requirements and are able to use a variety of carbon substrates. From the sequence of P. freudenreichii CIRM-BIA1(T) genome, many pathways were reconstituted, including the Wood-Werkman cycle, enzymes of the respiratory chain, synthesis pathways for all amino acids and many vitamins including vitamin B(12). P. freudenreichii displays features allowing its long-term survival. It accumulates inorganic polyphosphate (polyP) as energy reserve, carbon storage compounds (glycogen), and compatible solutes such as trehalose. In cheese, P. freudenreichii plays an essential role in the production of a variety of flavour compounds, including not only propionic acid, but also free fatty acids released via lipolysis of milk glycerides and methyl-butanoic acids resulting from amino acid degradation. P. freudenreichii can exert health-promoting activities, such as a bifidogenic effect in the human gut and promising immunomodulatory effects. Many P. freudenreichii properties involved in adaptation, cheese ripening, bio-preservation and probiotic effects are highly strain-dependent. The elucidation of the molecular mechanisms involved is now facilitated by the availability of genome sequence and molecular tools. It will help in the selection of the most appropriate strain for each application.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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