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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1990 Jul;56(7):2120-4.

Acid Tolerance of Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Lactobacillus plantarum.

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Food Fermentation Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, Department of Food Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7624.


In this study, we determined the internal cellular pH response of Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Lactobacillus plantarum to the external pH created by the microorganisms themselves or by lactic or acetic acids and their salts added to the growth medium. Growth of Leuconostoc mesenteroides stopped when its internal pH reached 5.4 to 5.7, and growth of L. plantarum stopped when its internal pH reached 4.6 to 4.8. Variation in growth medium composition or pH did not alter the growth-limiting internal pH reached by these microorganisms. L. plantarum maintained its pH gradient in the presence of either 160 mM sodium acetate or sodium lactate down to an external pH of 3.0 with either acid. In contrast, the DeltapH of Leuconostoc mesenteroides was zero at pH 4.0 with acetate and 5.0 with lactate. No differences were found between d-(-)- and l-(+)-lactic acid for the limiting internal pH for growth of either microorganism. The comparatively low growth-limiting internal pH and ability to maintain a pH gradient at high organic acid concentration may contribute to the ability of L. plantarum to terminate vegetable fermentations.


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