Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 421–429 | Cite as

Variations in the energy metabolism of biotechnologically relevant heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria during growth on sugars and organic acids

  • T. Zaunmüller
  • M. Eichert
  • H. Richter
  • G. Unden


Heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria (LAB) such as Leuconostoc, Oenococcus, and Lactobacillus strains ferment pentoses by the phosphoketolase pathway. The extra NAD(P)H, which is produced during growth on hexoses, is transferred to acetyl-CoA, yielding ethanol. Ethanol fermentation represents the limiting step in hexose fermentation, therefore, part of the extra NAD(P)H is used to produce erythritol and glycerol. Fructose, pyruvate, citrate, and O2 can be used in addition as external electron acceptors for NAD(P)H reoxidation. Use of the external acceptors increases the growth rate of the bacteria. The bacteria are also able to ferment organic acids like malate, pyruvate, and citrate. Malolactic fermentation generates a proton potential by substrate transport. Pyruvate fermentation sustains growth by pyruvate disproportionation involving pyruvate dehydrogenase. Citrate is fermented in the presence of an additional electron donor to acetate and lactate. Thus, heterofermentative LAB are able to use a variety of unusual fermentation reactions in addition to classical heterofermentation. Most of the reactions are significant for food biotechnology/microbiology.


Sugar fermentation Lactic acid bacteria Heterofermentative Organic acids 



The work in the authors’ laboratory was supported by Innovationsstiftung Rheinland-Pfalz (Grant no. 15202-38 62 61/675).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Zaunmüller
    • 1
  • M. Eichert
    • 1
  • H. Richter
    • 1
  • G. Unden
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Mikrobiologie und WeinforschungJohannes Gutenberg-Universität MainzMainzGermany

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