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Appl Microbiol. 1968 Sep;16(9):1326-30.

Lactobacilli on plants.


The distribution, enumeration, and identification of lactobacilli on vegetable plants were studied in an area described geographically as being subtropical and moist. The lactobacilli were obtained, by means of quantitative enrichment procedures in Rogosa's SL broth, from 35.3% of all samples incubated at 32 C, and from 15.4% of the samples incubated at 45 C. Less than 10 lactobacilli/g of plant material were enumerated in 54% of all positive samples. The lactobacilli were found much less frequently and in lower numbers than were streptococci or Leuconostoc mesenteroides. The most frequently isolated lactobacillus was very simular to, but not identical with, Lactobacillus fermenti. It was aerogenic, grew well at both 15 and 45 C, fermented arabinose, lactose, and sucrose, and liberated ammonia from arginine. Of the identified species, L. plantarum, L. fermenti, and L. brevis were the most frequently isolated, whereas L. casei, L. viridescens, L. cellobiosus, L. salivarius, and L. buchneri were obtained from small numbers of samples. The widespread but sporadic distribution of lactobacilli in low numbers seems to indicate that these organisms do not normally thrive on plant surfaces. A ternary cycle, beginning with intestinal waste, followed by mechanical distribution to and among plants, and return to the host via the oral cavity, is suggested.

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