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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Nov;73(22):7283-90. Epub 2007 Sep 21.

Synthesis of gamma-aminobutyric acid by lactic acid bacteria isolated from a variety of Italian cheeses.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Protezione delle Piante e Microbiologia Applicata, Facoltà di Scienze Biotecnologiche di Bari, Via G. Amendola 165/a, 70126 Bari, Italy.


The concentrations of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in 22 Italian cheese varieties that differ in several technological traits markedly varied from 0.26 to 391 mg kg(-1). Presumptive lactic acid bacteria were isolated from each cheese variety (total of 440 isolates) and screened for the capacity to synthesize GABA. Only 61 isolates showed this activity and were identified by partial sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. Twelve species were found. Lactobacillus paracasei PF6, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus PR1, Lactococcus lactis PU1, Lactobacillus plantarum C48, and Lactobacillus brevis PM17 were the best GABA-producing strains during fermentation of reconstituted skimmed milk. Except for L. plantarum C48, all these strains were isolated from cheeses with the highest concentrations of GABA. A core fragment of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) DNA was isolated from L. paracasei PF6, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus PR1, L. lactis PU1, and L. plantarum C48 by using primers based on two highly conserved regions of GAD. A PCR product of ca. 540 bp was found for all the strains. The amino acid sequences deduced from nucleotide sequence analysis showed 98, 99, 90, and 85% identity to GadB of L. plantarum WCFS1 for L. paracasei PF6, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus PR1, L. lactis PU1, and L. plantarum C48, respectively. Except for L. lactis PU1, the three lactobacillus strains survived and synthesized GABA under simulated gastrointestinal conditions. The findings of this study provide a potential basis for exploiting selected cheese-related lactobacilli to develop health-promoting dairy products enriched in GABA.

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