A recent comparative genomic hybridization study in our laboratory revealed considerable plasticity within the bacteriocin locus of gastrointestinal strains of Lactobacillus salivarius. Most notably, these analyses led to the identification of two novel unmodified bacteriocins, salivaricin L and salivaricin T, produced by the neonatal isolate L. salivarius DPC6488 with immunity, regulatory and export systems analogous to those of abp118, a two-component bacteriocin produced by the well characterized reference strain L. salivarius UCC118. In this addendum we discuss the intraspecific diversity of our seven bacteriocin-producing L. salivarius isolates on a genome-wide level, and more specifically, with respect to their salivaricin loci.
Lactobacillus salivarius; bacteriocin; comparative genomic hybridization; probiotic; salivaricin
There is an increasing need for alternatives to antibiotics for promoting animal health, given the increasing problems associated with antibiotic resistance. In this regard, we evaluated spent cider yeast as a potential probiotic for modifying the gut microbiota in weanling pigs using pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene libraries.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Piglets aged 24–26 days were assigned to one of two study groups; control (n = 12) and treatment (n = 12). The control animals were fed with a basal diet and the treatment animals were fed with basal diet in combination with cider yeast supplement (500 ml cider yeast containing ∼7.6 log CFU/ml) for 21 days. Faecal samples were collected for 16s rRNA gene compositional analysis. 16S rRNA compositional sequencing analysis of the faecal samples collected from day 0 and day 21 revealed marked differences in microbial diversity at both the phylum and genus levels between the control and treatment groups. This analysis confirmed that levels of Salmonella and Escherichia were significantly decreased in the treatment group, compared with the control (P<0.001). This data suggest a positive influence of dietary supplementation with live cider yeast on the microbial diversity of the pig distal gut.
The effect of dietary cider yeast on porcine gut microbial communities was characterized for the first time using 16S rRNA gene compositional sequencing. Dietary cider yeast can potentially alter the gut microbiota, however such changes depend on their endogenous microbiota that causes a divergence in relative response to that given diet.
Kefir is a fermented milk-based beverage to which a number of health-promoting properties have been attributed. The microbes responsible for the fermentation of milk to produce kefir consist of a complex association of bacteria and yeasts, bound within a polysaccharide matrix, known as the kefir grain. The consistency of this microbial population, and that present in the resultant beverage, has been the subject of a number of previous, almost exclusively culture-based, studies which have indicated differences depending on geographical location and culture conditions. However, culture-based identification studies are limited by virtue of only detecting species with the ability to grow on the specific medium used and thus culture-independent, molecular-based techniques offer the potential for a more comprehensive analysis of such communities. Here we describe a detailed investigation of the microbial population, both bacterial and fungal, of kefir, using high-throughput sequencing to analyse 25 kefir milks and associated grains sourced from 8 geographically distinct regions. This is the first occasion that this technology has been employed to investigate the fungal component of these populations or to reveal the microbial composition of such an extensive number of kefir grains or milks. As a result several genera and species not previously identified in kefir were revealed. Our analysis shows that the bacterial populations in kefir are dominated by 2 phyla, the Firmicutes and the Proteobacteria. It was also established that the fungal populations of kefir were dominated by the genera Kazachstania, Kluyveromyces and Naumovozyma, but that a variable sub-dominant population also exists.
Links between the gut microbiota and host metabolism have provided new perspectives on obesity. We previously showed that the link between the microbiota and fat deposition is age- and time-dependent subject to microbial adaptation to diet over time. We also demonstrated reduced weight gain in diet-induced obese (DIO) mice through manipulation of the gut microbiota with vancomycin or with the bacteriocin-producing probiotic Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118 (Bac+), with metabolic improvement achieved in DIO mice in receipt of vancomycin. However, two phases of weight gain were observed with effects most marked early in the intervention phase. Here, we compare the gut microbial populations at the early relative to the late stages of intervention using a high throughput sequencing-based analysis to understand the temporal relationship between the gut microbiota and obesity. This reveals several differences in microbiota composition over the intervening period. Vancomycin dramatically altered the gut microbiota composition, relative to controls, at the early stages of intervention after which time some recovery was evident. It was also revealed that Bac+ treatment initially resulted in the presence of significantly higher proportions of Peptococcaceae and significantly lower proportions of Rikenellaceae and Porphyromonadaceae relative to the gut microbiota of L. salivarius UCC118 bacteriocin negative (Bac-) administered controls. These differences were no longer evident at the later time. The results highlight the resilience of the gut microbiota and suggest that interventions may need to be monitored and continually adjusted to ensure sustained modification of the gut microbiota.
Bacteriocins are an abundant and diverse group of ribosomally synthesized antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria and archaea. Traditionally, bacteriocin production has been considered an important trait in the selection of probiotic strains, but until recently, few studies have definitively demonstrated the impact of bacteriocin production on the ability of a strain to compete within complex microbial communities and/or positively influence the health of the host. Although research in this area is still in its infancy, there is intriguing evidence to suggest that bacteriocins may function in a number of ways within the gastrointestinal tract. Bacteriocins may facilitate the introduction of a producer into an established niche, directly inhibit the invasion of competing strains or pathogens, or modulate the composition of the microbiota and influence the host immune system. Here we review the role of bacteriocin production in complex microbial communities and their potential to enhance human health.
The colonization, development and maturation of the newborn gastrointestinal tract that begins immediately at birth and continues for two years, is modulated by numerous factors including mode of delivery, feeding regime, maternal diet/weight, probiotic and prebiotic use and antibiotic exposure pre-, peri- and post-natally. While in the past, culture-based approaches were used to assess the impact of these factors on the gut microbiota, these have now largely been replaced by culture-independent DNA-based approaches and most recently, high-throughput sequencing-based forms thereof. The aim of this review is to summarize recent research into the modulatory factors that impact on the acquisition and development of the infant gut microbiota, to outline the knowledge recently gained through the use of culture-independent techniques and, in particular, highlight advances in high-throughput sequencing and how these technologies have, and will continue to, fill gaps in our knowledge with respect to the human intestinal microbiota.
infant; gut microbiota; high-throughput sequencing; colonization; probiotics; prebiotics; antibiotics
The infant gut microbiota undergoes dramatic changes during the first 2 years of life. The acquisition and development of this population can be influenced by numerous factors, and antibiotic treatment has been suggested as one of the most significant. Despite this, however, there have been relatively few studies which have investigated the short-term recovery of the infant gut microbiota following antibiotic treatment. The aim of this study was to use high-throughput sequencing (employing both 16S rRNA and rpoB-specific primers) and quantitative PCR to compare the gut microbiota of nine infants who underwent parenteral antibiotic treatment with ampicillin and gentamicin (within 48 h of birth), 4 and 8 weeks after the conclusion of treatment, relative to that of nine matched healthy controls. The investigation revealed that the gut microbiota of the antibiotic-treated infants had significantly higher proportions of Proteobacteria (P = 0.0049) and significantly lower proportions of Actinobacteria (P = 0.00001) (and the associated genus Bifidobacterium [P = 0.0132]) as well as the genus Lactobacillus (P = 0.0182) than the untreated controls 4 weeks after the cessation of treatment. By week 8, the Proteobacteria levels remained significantly higher in the treated infants (P = 0.0049), but the Actinobacteria, Bifidobacterium, and Lactobacillus levels had recovered and were similar to those in the control samples. Despite this recovery of total Bifidobacterium numbers, rpoB-targeted pyrosequencing revealed that the number of different Bifidobacterium species present in the antibiotic-treated infants was reduced. It is thus apparent that the combined use of ampicillin and gentamicin in early life can have significant effects on the evolution of the infant gut microbiota, the long-term health implications of which remain unknown.
The lantibiotic lacticin 3147 has been the focus of much research due to its broad spectrum of activity against many microbial targets, including drug-resistant pathogens. In order to protect itself, a lacticin 3147 producer must possess a cognate immunity mechanism. Lacticin 3147 immunity is provided by an ABC transporter, LtnFE, and a dedicated immunity protein, LtnI, both of which are capable of independently providing a degree of protection. In the study described here, we carried out an in-depth investigation of LtnI structure-function relationships through the creation of a series of fusion proteins and LtnI determinants that have been the subject of random and site-directed mutagenesis. We establish that LtnI is a transmembrane protein that contains a number of individual residues and regions, such as those between amino acids 20 and 27 and amino acids 76 and 83, which are essential for LtnI function. Finally, as a consequence of the screening of a bank of 28,000 strains producing different LtnI derivatives, we identified one variant (LtnI I81V) that provides enhanced protection. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a lantibiotic immunity protein with enhanced functionality.
The composition of the microbiota associated with the human ileum and colon in the early weeks of life of two preterm infants was examined, with particular emphasis on the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium members. Culturing work showed that bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the ileostomy changed over time, compared with the colostomy effluent where there was far less variation. The colostomy infant was dominated by two phyla, Actinobacteria and Firmicutes, while in the ileostomy samples, Proteobacteria emerged at the expense of Actinobacteria. Bacteroidetes were only detected following the reversal of the ileostomy in the final fecal sample and were not detected in any colonic fluid samples. Clostridia levels were unstable in the colostomy fluid, suggesting that the ileostomy/colostomy itself influenced the gut microbiota, in particular the strict anaerobes. Pyrosequencing analysis of microbiota composition indicated that bifidobacteria and lactobacilli are among the dominant genera in both the ileal and colonic fluids. Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli levels were unstable in the ileostomy fluid, with large reductions in numbers and relative proportions of both observed. These decreases were characterized by an increase in proportions of Streptococcus and Enterobacteriaceae. Clostridium was detected only in the colonic effluent, with large changes in the relative proportions over time.
Colostomy; gastrointestinal tract; ileostomy; microbiota; preterm infant
It is becoming increasingly apparent that innovations from the “golden age” of antibiotics are becoming ineffective, resulting in a pressing need for novel therapeutics. The bacteriocin family of antimicrobial peptides has attracted much attention in recent years as a source of potential alternatives. The most intensively studied bacteriocin is nisin, a broad spectrum lantibiotic that inhibits Gram-positive bacteria including important food pathogens and clinically relevant antibiotic resistant bacteria. Nisin is gene-encoded and, as such, is amenable to peptide bioengineering, facilitating the generation of novel derivatives that can be screened for desirable properties. It was to this end that we used a site-saturation mutagenesis approach to create a bank of producers of nisin A derivatives that differ with respect to the identity of residue 12 (normally lysine; K12). A number of these producers exhibited enhanced bioactivity and the nisin A K12A producer was deemed of greatest interest. Subsequent investigations with the purified antimicrobial highlighted the enhanced specific activity of this modified nisin against representative target strains from the genera Streptococcus, Bacillus, Lactococcus, Enterococcus and Staphylococcus.
New antibacterial agents are urgently needed for the elimination of biofilm-forming bacteria that are highly resistant to traditional antimicrobial agents. Proliferation of such bacteria can lead to significant economic losses in the agri-food sector. This study demonstrates the potential of the bacteriophage-derived peptidase, CHAPK, as a biocidal agent for the rapid disruption of biofilm-forming staphylococci, commonly associated with bovine mastitis. Purified CHAPK applied to biofilms of Staphylococcus aureus DPC5246 completely eliminated the staphylococcal biofilms within 4 h. In addition, CHAPK was able to prevent biofilm formation by this strain. The CHAPK lysin also reduced S. aureus in a skin decolonization model. Our data demonstrates the potential of CHAPK as a biocidal agent for prevention and treatment of biofilm-associated staphylococcal infections or as a decontaminating agent in the food and healthcare sectors.
Here, high-throughput sequencing was employed to reveal the highly diverse bacterial populations present in 62 Irish artisanal cheeses and, in some cases, associated cheese rinds. Using this approach, we revealed the presence of several genera not previously associated with cheese, including Faecalibacterium, Prevotella, and Helcococcus and, for the first time, detected the presence of Arthrobacter and Brachybacterium in goats' milk cheese. Our analysis confirmed many previously observed patterns, such as the dominance of typical cheese bacteria, the fact that the microbiota of raw and pasteurized milk cheeses differ, and that the level of cheese maturation has a significant influence on Lactobacillus populations. It was also noted that cheeses containing adjunct ingredients had lower proportions of Lactococcus species. It is thus apparent that high-throughput sequencing-based investigations can provide valuable insights into the microbial populations of artisanal foods.
Lantibiotics are post-translationally modified antimicrobial peptides, of which nisin A is the most extensively studied example. Bioengineering of nisin A has resulted in the generation of derivatives with increased in vitro potency against Gram-positive bacteria. Of these, nisin V (containing a Met21Val change) is noteworthy by virtue of exhibiting enhanced antimicrobial efficacy against a wide range of clinical and food-borne pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes. However, this increased potency has not been tested in vivo.
Here we address this issue by assessing the ability of nisin A and nisin V to control a bioluminescent strain of Listeria monocytogenes EGDe in a murine infection model.
More specifically, Balb/c mice were infected via the intraperitoneal route at a dose of 1 × 105 cfu/animal and subsequently treated intraperitoneally with either nisin V, nisin A or a PBS control. Bioimaging of the mice was carried out on day 3 of the trial. Animals were then sacrificed and levels of infection were quantified in the liver and spleen.
This analysis revealed that nisin V was more effective than Nisin A with respect to controlling infection and therefore merits further investigation with a view to potential chemotherapeutic applications.
Antimicrobial; Lantibiotic; Bacteriocin; Peptide engineering; Mutagenesis; Nisin
The human appendix has historically been considered a vestige of evolutionary development with an unknown function. While limited data are available on the microbial composition of the appendix, it has been postulated that this organ could serve as a microbial reservoir for repopulating the gastrointestinal tract in times of necessity. We aimed to explore the microbial composition of the human appendix, using high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene V4 region. Seven patients, 5 to 25 years of age, presenting with symptoms of acute appendicitis were included in this study. Results showed considerable diversity and interindividual variability among the microbial composition of the appendix samples. In general, however, Firmicutes was the dominant phylum, with the majority of additional sequences being assigned at various levels to Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, and Fusobacteria. Despite the large diversity in the microbiota found within the appendix, however, a few major families and genera were found to comprise the majority of the sequences present. Interestingly, also, certain taxa not generally associated with the human intestine, including the oral pathogens Gemella, Parvimonas, and Fusobacterium, were identified among the appendix samples. The prevalence of genera such as Fusobacterium could also be linked to the severity of inflammation of the organ. We conclude that the human appendix contains a robust and varied microbiota distinct from the microbiotas in other niches within the human microbiome. The microbial composition of the human appendix is subject to extreme variability and comprises a diversity of biota that may play an important, as-yet-unknown role in human health.
There are currently limited data available on the microbial composition of the human appendix. It has been suggested, however, that it may serve as a “safe house” for commensal bacteria that can reinoculate the gut at need. The present study is the first comprehensive view of the microbial composition of the appendix as determined by high-throughput sequencing. We have determined that the human appendix contains a wealth of microbes, including members of 15 phyla. Important information regarding the associated bacterial diversity of the appendix which will help determine the role, if any, the appendix microbiota has in human health is presented.
The objective of this study was to investigate if feeding genetically modified (GM) MON810 maize expressing the Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal protein (Bt maize) had any effects on the porcine intestinal microbiota. Eighteen pigs were weaned at ∼28 days and, following a 6-day acclimatization period, were assigned to diets containing either GM (Bt MON810) maize or non-GM isogenic parent line maize for 31 days (n = 9/treatment). Effects on the porcine intestinal microbiota were assessed through culture-dependent and -independent approaches. Fecal, cecal, and ileal counts of total anaerobes, Enterobacteriaceae, and Lactobacillus were not significantly different between pigs fed the isogenic or Bt maize-based diets. Furthermore, high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed few differences in the compositions of the cecal microbiotas. The only differences were that pigs fed the Bt maize diet had higher cecal abundance of Enterococcaceae (0.06 versus 0%; P < 0.05), Erysipelotrichaceae (1.28 versus 1.17%; P < 0.05), and Bifidobacterium (0.04 versus 0%; P < 0.05) and lower abundance of Blautia (0.23 versus 0.40%; P < 0.05) than pigs fed the isogenic maize diet. A lower enzyme-resistant starch content in the Bt maize, which is most likely a result of normal variation and not due to the genetic modification, may account for some of the differences observed within the cecal microbiotas. These results indicate that Bt maize is well tolerated by the porcine intestinal microbiota and provide additional data for safety assessment of Bt maize. Furthermore, these data can potentially be extrapolated to humans, considering the suitability of pigs as a human model.
Caseicins A and B are low-molecular-weight antimicrobial peptides which are released by proteolytic digestion of sodium caseinate. Caseicin A (IKHQGLPQE) is a nine-amino-acid cationic peptide, and caseicin B (VLNENLLR) is a neutral eight-amino-acid peptide; both have previously been shown to exhibit antibacterial activity against a number of pathogens, including Cronobacter sakazakii. Previously, four variants of each caseicin which differed subtly from their natural counterparts were generated by peptide synthesis. Antimicrobial activity assays revealed that the importance of a number of the residues within the peptides was dependent on the strain being targeted. In this study, this engineering-based approach was expanded through the creation of a larger collection of 26 peptides which are altered in a variety of ways. The investigation highlights the generally greater tolerance of caseicin B to change, the fact that changes have a more detrimental impact on anti-Gram-negative activity, and the surprising number of variants which exhibit enhanced activity against Staphylococcus aureus.
The Listeria monocytogenes LiaSR two-component system (2CS) encoded by lmo1021 and lmo1022 plays an important role in resistance to the food preservative nisin. A nonpolar deletion in the histidine kinase-encoding component (ΔliaS) resulted in a 4-fold increase in nisin resistance. In contrast, the ΔliaS strain exhibited increased sensitivity to a number of cephalosporin antibiotics (and was also altered with respect to its response to a variety of other antimicrobials, including the active agents of a number of disinfectants). This pattern of increased nisin resistance and reduced cephalosporin resistance in L. monocytogenes has previously been associated with mutation of a second histidine kinase, LisK, which is a predicted regulator of liaS and a penicillin binding protein encoded by lmo2229. We noted that lmo2229 transcription is increased in the ΔliaS mutant and in a ΔliaS ΔlisK double mutant and that disruption of lmo2229 in the ΔliaS ΔlisK mutant resulted in a dramatic sensitization to nisin but had a relatively minor impact on cephalosporin resistance. We anticipate that further efforts to unravel the complex mechanisms by which LiaSR impacts on the antimicrobial resistance of L. monocytogenes could facilitate the development of strategies to increase the susceptibility of the pathogen to these agents.
Clostridium difficile is an important nosocomial pathogen associated particularly with diarrheal disease in elderly individuals in hospitals and long-term care facilities. We examined the carriage rate of Clostridium difficile by culture as a function of fecal microbiota composition in elderly subjects recruited from the community, including outpatient, short-term respite, and long-term hospital stay subjects. The carriage rate ranged from 1.6% (n = 123) for subjects in the community, to 9.5% (n = 43) in outpatient settings, and increasing to 21% (n = 151) for patients in short- or long-term care in hospital. The dominant 072 ribotype was carried by 43% (12/28) of subjects, while the hypervirulent strain R027 (B1/NAP1/027) was isolated from 3 subjects (11%), 2 of whom displayed C. difficile associated diarrhea (CDAD) symptoms at the time of sampling. Emerging ribotypes with enhanced virulence (078 and 018) were also isolated from two asymptomatic subjects. Pyrosequencing of rRNA gene amplicons was used to determine the composition of the fecal microbiota as a surrogate for the microbial population structure of the distal intestine. Asymptomatic subjects (n = 20) from whom C. difficile was isolated showed no dramatic difference at the phylum or family taxonomic level compared to those that were culture negative (n = 252). However, in contrast, a marked reduction in microbial diversity at genus level was observed in patients who had been diagnosed with CDAD at the time of sampling and from whom C. difficile R027 was isolated.
Ltnα and Ltnβ are individual components of the two-peptide lantibiotic lacticin 3147 and are unusual in that, although ribosomally synthesized, they contain d-amino acids. These result from the dehydration of l-serine to dehydroalanine by LtnM and subsequent stereospecific hydrogenation to d-alanine by LtnJ. Homologues of LtnJ are rare but have been identified in silico in Staphylococcus aureus C55 (SacJ), Pediococcus pentosaceus FBB61 (PenN), and Nostoc punctiforme PCC73102 (NpnJ, previously called NpunJ [P. D. Cotter et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 102:18584–18589, 2005]). Here, the ability of these enzymes to catalyze d-alanine formation in the lacticin 3147 system was assessed through heterologous enzyme production in a ΔltnJ mutant. PenN successfully incorporated d-alanines in both peptides, and SacJ modified Ltnα only, while NpnJ was unable to modify either peptide. Site-directed mutagenesis was also employed to identify residues of key importance in LtnJ. The most surprising outcome from these investigations was the generation of peptides by specific LtnJ mutants which exhibited less bioactivity than those generated by the ΔltnJ strain. We have established that the reduced activity of these peptides is due to the inability of the associated LtnJ enzymes to generate d-alanine residues in a stereospecific manner, resulting in the presence of both d- and l-alanines at the relevant locations in the lacticin 3147 peptides.
Lactobacillus ruminis is one of at least twelve motile but poorly characterized species found in the genus Lactobacillus. Of these, only L. ruminis has been isolated from mammals, and this species may be considered as an autochthonous member of the gastrointestinal microbiota of humans, pigs and cows. Nine L. ruminis strains were investigated here to elucidate the biochemistry and genetics of Lactobacillus motility. Six strains isolated from humans were non-motile while three bovine isolates were motile. A complete set of flagellum biogenesis genes was annotated in the sequenced genomes of two strains, ATCC25644 (human isolate) and ATCC27782 (bovine isolate), but only the latter strain produced flagella. Comparison of the L. ruminis and L. mali DSM20444T motility loci showed that their genetic content and gene-order were broadly similar, although the L. mali motility locus was interrupted by an 11.8 Kb region encoding rhamnose utilization genes that is absent from the L. ruminis motility locus. Phylogenetic analysis of 39 motile bacteria indicated that Lactobacillus motility genes were most closely related to those of motile carnobacteria and enterococci. Transcriptome analysis revealed that motility genes were transcribed at a significantly higher level in motile L. ruminis ATCC27782 than in non-motile ATCC25644. Flagellin proteins were isolated from L. ruminis ATCC27782 and from three other Lactobacillus species, while recombinant flagellin of aflagellate L. ruminis ATCC25644 was expressed and purified from E. coli. These native and recombinant Lactobacillus flagellins, and also flagellate L. ruminis cells, triggered interleukin-8 production in cultured human intestinal epithelial cells in a manner suppressed by short interfering RNA directed against Toll-Like Receptor 5. This study provides genetic, transcriptomic, phylogenetic and immunological insights into the trait of flagellum-mediated motility in the lactobacilli.
Nisin U is a member of the extended nisin family of lantibiotics. Here we identify the presence of nisin U immunity gene homologues in Streptococcus infantarius subsp. infantarius BAA-102. Heterologous expression of these genes in Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris HP confers protection to nisin U and other members of the nisin family, thereby establishing that the recently identified phenomenon of resistance through immune mimicry also occurs with respect to nisin.
Probiotics are ‘live microorganisms which, when administrated in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host’ (FAO/WHO, 2001). This requirement, i.e. that the probiotic bacteria must be in viable form at the time of consumption, poses a number of technical challenges from food processing perspectives. Environmental stresses encountered during food processing include acid exposure during food fermentations, extremes in temperatures encountered during drying processes, in addition to oxidative, osmotic, and food matrix stresses. Furthermore, the ingested bacteria must remain viable during gastric transit, to reach the site of action in viable form to exert the probiotic effects. This imposes further stresses, as the gastrointestinal tract is naturally designed to impede the passage of microorganisms with low pH encountered in the stomach and the detergent-like properties of bile encountered in the duodenum. A number of approaches have been investigated in order to minimise the damage caused by exposure to such stresses experienced by probiotics during food processing and gastric transit. Approaches for protection of probiotic viability during food processing and shelf life include manipulation of bacterial cell physiology, application of prelethal stress to the cultures during cell preparation, selection of appropriate drying conditions, and optimisation of reconstitution conditions after drying. Furthermore, probiotic viability losses can be minimised by selection of appropriate food carriers for their delivery to the intestine. In this respect, the composition and physical nature of the food matrix can have profound effects on the stability of live probiotics during gastric transit. Encapsulation of probiotics is another approach to positively affect viability of probiotics in some matrices. Furthermore, it is important to understand the mechanisms underlying bacterial survival in hostile environments in order to develop efficacious functional foods delivering the benefits associated with the probiotics within.
Bacteriocins produced by Lactobacillus salivarius isolates derived from a gastrointestinal origin have previously demonstrated efficacy for in vivo protection against Listeria monocytogenes infection. In this study, comparative genomic analysis was employed to investigate the intraspecies diversity of seven L. salivarius isolates of human and porcine intestinal origin, based on the genome of the well-characterized bacteriocin-producing strain L. salivarius UCC118. This revealed a highly conserved megaplasmid-borne gene cluster in these strains involved in the regulation and secretion of two-component class IIb bacteriocins. However, considerable intraspecific variation was observed in the structural genes encoding the bacteriocin peptides. They ranged from close relatives of abp118, such as salivaricin P, which differs by 2 amino acids, to completely novel bacteriocins, such as salivaricin T, which is characterized in this study. Salivaricin T inhibits closely related lactobacilli and bears little homology to previously characterized salivaricins. Interestingly, the two peptides responsible for salivaricin T activity, SalTα and SalTβ, share considerable identity with the component peptides of thermophilin 13, a bacteriocin produced by Streptococcus thermophilus. Furthermore, the salivaricin locus of strain DPC6488 also encodes an additional novel one-component class IId anti-listerial bacteriocin, salivaricin L. These findings suggest a high level of redundancy in the bacteriocins that can be produced by intestinal L. salivarius isolates using the same enzymatic production and export machinery. Such diversity may contribute to their ability to dominate and compete within the complex microbiota of the mammalian gut.
The draft genome of Bifidobacterium breve DPC 6330, isolated from an elderly patient, was determined. B. breve DPC 6330 was previously identified to synthesize the beneficial metabolite conjugated linoleic acid from free linoleic acid. The sequence will allow identification and characterization of the genetic determinants of its putative beneficial properties.
In this study, whole-genome microarrays were used to gain insights into the global molecular response of Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis IL1403 at an early stage of infection with the lytic phage c2. The bacterium differentially regulated the expression of 61 genes belonging to 14 functional categories, including cell envelope processes (12 genes), regulatory functions (11 genes), and carbohydrate metabolism (7 genes). The nature of these genes suggests a complex response involving four main mechanisms: (i) induction of membrane stress proteins, (ii) d-alanylation of cell wall lipoteichoic acids (LTAs), (iii) maintenance of the proton motive force (PMF), and (iv) energy conservation. The phage presence is sensed as a membrane stress in L. lactis subsp. lactis IL1403, which activated a cell wall-targeted response probably orchestrated by the concerted action of membrane phage shock protein C-like homologues, the global regulator SpxB, and the two-component system CesSR. The bacterium upregulated genes (ddl and dltABCD) responsible for incorporation of d-alanine esters into LTAs, an event associated with increased resistance to phage attack in Gram-positive bacteria. The expression of genes (yshC, citE, citF) affecting both PMF components was also regulated to restore the physiological PMF, which was disrupted following phage infection. While mobilizing the response to the phage-mediated stress, the bacterium activated an energy-saving program by repressing growth-related functions and switching to anaerobic respiration, probably to sustain the PMF and the overall cell response to phage. To our knowledge, this represents the first detailed description in L. lactis of the molecular mechanisms involved in the host response to the membrane perturbations mediated by phage infection.