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Dynamic analysis of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus CFL1 physiological characteristics during fermentation

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This study aimed at examining and comparing the relevance of various methods in order to discriminate different cellular states of Lactobacillus bulgaricus CFL1 and to improve knowledge on the dynamics of the cellular physiological state during growth and acidification. By using four fluorescent probes combined with multiparametric flow cytometry, membrane integrity, intracellular esterase activity, cellular vitality, membrane depolarization, and intracellular pH were quantified throughout fermentations. Results were compared and correlated with measurements of cultivability, acidification activity (Cinac system), and cellular ability to recover growth in fresh medium (Bioscreen system). The Cinac system and flow cytometry were relevant to distinguish different physiological states throughout growth. Lb. bulgaricus cells maintained their high viability, energetic state, membrane potential, and pH gradient in the late stationary phase, despite the gradual decrease of both cultivability and acidification activity. Viability and membrane integrity were maintained during acidification, at the expense of their cultivability and acidification activity. Finally, this study demonstrated that the physiological state during fermentation was strongly affected by intracellular pH and the pH gradient. The critical pHi of Lb. bulgaricus CFL1 was found to be equal to pH 5.8. Through linear relationships between dpH and cultivability and pHi and acidification activity, pHi and dpH well described the time course of metabolic activity, cultivability, and viability in a single analysis.

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This work was financially supported by ARILAIT Recherches (Paris, France) and the Genetic Resources Board (BRG, Paris). The authors wish to thank Donald White for revision of the English.

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Correspondence to Catherine Béal.

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Rault, A., Bouix, M. & Béal, C. Dynamic analysis of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus CFL1 physiological characteristics during fermentation. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 81, 559–570 (2008).

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  • Lactic acid bacteria
  • Physiological state
  • Viability
  • Acidification activity
  • Flow cytometry