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Curr Microbiol. 2000 Mar;40(3):194-9.

Biodegradability of food-associated extracellular polysaccharides.

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Division of Industrial Microbiology, Department of Food Technology and Nutritional Sciences, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Exopolysaccharides (EPSs) produced by lactic acid bacteria, which are common in fermented foods, are claimed to have various beneficial physiological effects on humans. Although the biodegradability of EPSs is important in relation to the bioactive properties, knowledge on this topic is limited. Therefore, the biodegradability of eight EPSs, six of which were produced by lactic acid bacteria, was compared with microorganisms from human feces or soil. EPS-degradation was determined from the decrease in polysaccharide-sugar concentration and by high-performance size exclusion chromatography (HPSEC). Xanthan, clavan, and the EPSs produced by Streptococcus thermophilus SFi 39 and SFi 12 were readily degraded, in contrast to the EPSs produced by Lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris B40, Lactobacillus sakei 0-1, S. thermophilus SFi20, and Lactobacillus helveticus Lh59. Clearly, the susceptibility of exopolysaccharides to biological breakdown can differ greatly, implying that the physiological effects of these compounds may also vary a lot.

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