Adaptation of Lactic Acid Bacteria to Unfavorable Growth Conditions

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The adaptation of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) to unfavorable growth conditions, e.g., depletion of nutrient sources, overthreshold cell density of a population, or antibiotic impact, was shown to include: (1) formation of cyst-like dormant cells (CDC) providing for survival and species preservation and (2) realization of intra-population phenotypic variability, which is demonstrated by development of non-dominant colonies on plates inoculated with CDC suspensions. In Lactobacillus plantarum, the dormant cells, which retained viability and heat resistance for a long time, were formed in 10- and 20-fold concentrated suspensions of the stationary phase cells. In 4-month cell suspensions, two types of cells were present, CDC and L-forms. The CDC of Lactococcus lactis were formed in (1) post-stationary cultures grown under glucose limitation and (2) in stationary phase cultures resuspended in starvation medium (without glucose). Populations of CDC stored for different periods of time varied in the ability for phase variation; as a result, both variants exhibited a shift of the population's CDC spectrum to the transition of the dominant S-colony type to the R-type up to complete substitution (by day 25). In Lactobacillus acidophilus AT-41, CDC appeared in (1) post-stationary cultures grown on a nitrogen-limited medium; (2) autolyzing cultures treated with ampicillin or erythromycin; and (3) concentrated (10- and 20-fold) suspensions of stationary-phase cells. At plating of L. acidophilus CDC, the substitution of the S-type for the dominant R-type in variants (1) (day 30), (2) (100 μg/ml ampicillin, day 10), and (3) (day 25) was 68.6%, 30.1%, and 61.2%, respectively. The S-variant of L. acidophilus was used for development of a novel lactofermented product based on vegetable (beet) juice fermentation, which sustained high titer of viable cells (2 × 106 cells/ml).

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