The aim of this study was to gain insight into the inactivation mechanisms of Lactobacillus helveticus during vacuum drying.Methods and Results
Early stationary phase cells of L. helveticus were dried in a vacuum drier. Viability, cell integrity and metabolic activity of cells were assessed over time by plate counts on de Man Rogosa and Sharpe broth agar medium and cytological methods employing fluorescent reagents and nucleic acid stains. The cell envelope damage was visualized by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) was used to indirectly observe changes in cell components during drying. Viability, metabolic activity and cell integrity decreased during vacuum drying, and different inactivation curves, characterized by the loss of ability to resume growth, and cell injuries were found. AFM images showed cracks on the surface of dried cells. Main changes in FT-IR spectra were attributed to the damage in cell envelope.Conclusion
The cell envelope was the main site of damage in L. helveticus during vacuum drying.Significance and Impact of the Study
Inactivation mechanisms of L. helveticus during vacuum drying were partly elucidated. This information is useful for the improvement of the viability of vacuum-dried starter cultures.