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J Appl Microbiol. 2002;92(5):851-9.

Growth studies of potentially probiotic lactic acid bacteria in cereal-based substrates.

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1
Satake Centre for Grain Process Engineering, UMIST, Department of Chemical Engineering, Manchester, UK.

Abstract

AIMS:

The overall growth kinetics of four potentially probiotic strains (Lactobacillus fermentum, Lact. reuteri, Lact. acidophilus and Lact. plantarum) cultured in malt, barley and wheat media were investigated. The objectives were to identify the main factors influencing the growth and metabolic activity of each strain in association with the cereal substrate.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

All fermentations were performed without pH control. A logistic-type equation, which included a growth inhibition term, was used to describe the experimental data. In the malt medium, all strains attained high maximum cell populations (8.10-10.11 log10 cfu ml(-1), depending on the strain), probably due to the availability of maltose, sucrose, glucose, fructose (approx. 15 g l(-1) total fermentable sugars) and free amino nitrogen (approx. 80 mg l(-1)). The consumption of sugars during the exponential phase (10-12 h) resulted in the accumulation of lactic acid (1.06-1.99 g l(-1)) and acetic acid (0.29-0.59 g l(-1)), which progressively decreased the pH of the medium. Each strain demonstrated a specific preference for one or more sugars. Since small amounts of sugars were consumed by the end of the exponential phase (17-43%), the decisive growth-limiting factor was probably the pH, which at that time ranged between 3.40 and 3.77 for all of the strains. Analysis of the metabolic products confirmed the heterofermentative or homofermentative nature of the strains used, except in the case of Lact. acidophilus which demonstrated a shift towards the heterofermentative pathway. All strains produced acetic acid during the exponential phase, which could be attributed to the presence of oxygen. Lactobacillus plantarum, Lact. reuteri and Lact. fermentum continued to consume the remaining sugars and accumulate metabolic products in the medium, probably due to energy requirements for cell viability, while Lact. acidophilus entered directly into the decline phase. In the barley and wheat media all strains, especially Lact. acidophilus and Lact. reuteri, attained lower maximum cell populations (7.20-9.43 log10 cfu ml(-1)) than in the malt medium. This could be attributed to the low sugar content (3-4 g l(-1) total fermentable sugar for each medium) and the low free amino nitrogen concentration (15.3-26.6 mg l(-1)). In all fermentations, the microbial growth ceased at pH values (3.73-4.88, depending on the strain) lower than those observed for malt fermentations, which suggests that substrate deficiency in sugars and free amino nitrogen contributed to growth limitation.

CONCLUSIONS:

The malt medium supported the growth of all strains more than barley and wheat media due to its chemical composition, while Lact. plantarum and Lact. fermentum appeared to be less fastidious and more resistant to acidic conditions than Lact. acidophilus and Lact. reuteri.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY:

Cereals are suitable substrates for the growth of potentially probiotic lactic acid bacteria.

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