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Int J Food Microbiol. 2012 Jul 2;157(2):278-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2012.05.018. Epub 2012 May 25.

Genotypic diversity of stress response in Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paraplantarum and Lactobacillus pentosus.

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Dipartimento di Biologia, Difesa e Biotecnologie Agro-Forestali, Università degli Studi della Basilicata, Potenza, Italy.


Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus pentosus and Lactobacillus paraplantarum are three closely related species which are widespread in food and non-food environments, and are important as starter bacteria or probiotics. In order to evaluate the phenotypic diversity of stress tolerance in the L. plantarum group and the ability to mount an adaptive heat shock response, the survival of exponential and stationary phase and of heat adapted exponential phase cells of six L. plantarum subsp. plantarum, one L. plantarum subsp. argentoratensis, one L. pentosus and two L. paraplantarum strains selected in a previous work upon exposure to oxidative, heat, detergent, starvation and acid stresses was compared to that of the L. plantarum WCFS1 strain. Furthermore, to evaluate the genotypic diversity in stress response genes, ten genes (encoding for chaperones DnaK, GroES and GroEL, regulators CtsR, HrcA and CcpA, ATPases/proteases ClpL, ClpP, ClpX and protease FtsH) were amplified using primers derived from the WCFS1 genome sequence and submitted to restriction with one or two endonucleases. The results were compared by univariate and multivariate statistical methods. In addition, the amplicons for hrcA and ctsR were sequenced and compared by multiple sequence alignment and polymorphism analysis. Although there was evidence of a generalized stress response in the stationary phase, with increase of oxidative, heat, and, to a lesser extent, starvation stress tolerance, and for adaptive heat stress response, with increased tolerance to heat, acid and detergent, different growth phases and adaptation patterns were found. Principal component analysis showed that while heat, acid and detergent stresses respond similarly to growth phase and adaptation, tolerance to oxidative and starvation stresses implies completely unrelated mechanisms. A dendrogram obtained using the data from multilocus restriction typing (MLRT) of stress response genes clearly separated two groups of L. plantarum strains from the other species but there was no correlation between genotypic grouping and grouping obtained on the basis of the stress response pattern, nor with the phylograms obtained from hrcA and ctsR sequences. Differences in sequence in L. plantarum strains were mostly due to single nucleotide polymorphisms with a high frequency of synonymous nucleotide changes and, while hrcA was characterized by an excess of low frequency polymorphism, very low diversity was found in ctsR sequences. Sequence alignment of hrcA allowed a correct discrimination of the strains at the species level, thus confirming the relevance of stress response genes for taxonomy.

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