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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2004 Sep 15;238(2):291-5.

Low pH-induced membrane fatty acid alterations in oral bacteria.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Four oral bacterial strains, of which two are considered aciduric and two are considered acid-sensitive, were grown under glucose-limiting conditions in chemostats to determine whether their membrane fatty acid profiles were altered in response to environmental acidification. Streptococcus gordonii DL1, as well as the aciduric strains S. salivarius 57.I, and Lactobacillus casei 4646 increased the levels of mono-unsaturated membrane fatty acids. The non-aciduric strain S. sanguis 10904 did not alter its membrane composition in response to pH values examined here. Thus, in response to low pH, aciduric oral bacteria alter their membrane composition to contain increased levels of long-chained, mono-unsaturated fatty acids. This suggests that membrane fatty acid adaptation is a common mechanism utilized by bacteria to withstand environmental stress.

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