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Enhancing the Sweetness of Yoghurt through Metabolic Remodeling of Carbohydrate Metabolism in Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus

, : Enhancing the Sweetness of Yoghurt through Metabolic Remodeling of Carbohydrate Metabolism in Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 82(12): 3683-3692

Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus are used in the fermentation of milk to produce yoghurt. These species normally metabolize only the glucose moiety of lactose, secreting galactose and producing lactic acid as the main metabolic end product. We used multiple serial selection steps to isolate spontaneous mutants of industrial strains of S. thermophilus and L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus that secreted glucose rather than galactose when utilizing lactose as a carbon source. Sequencing revealed that the S. thermophilus strains had mutations in the galKTEM promoter, the glucokinase gene, and genes encoding elements of the glucose/mannose phosphotransferase system (PTS). These strains metabolize galactose but are unable to phosphorylate glucose internally or via the PTS. The L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus mutants had mutations in genes of the glucose/mannose PTS and in the pyruvate kinase gene. These strains cannot grow on exogenous glucose but are proficient at metabolizing internal glucose released from lactose by β-galactosidase. The resulting strains can be combined to ferment milk, producing yoghurt with no detectable lactose, moderate levels of galactose, and high levels of glucose. Since glucose tastes considerably sweeter than either lactose or galactose, the sweetness of the yoghurt is perceptibly enhanced. These strains were produced without the use of recombinant DNA technology and can be used for the industrial production of yoghurt with enhanced intrinsic sweetness and low residual levels of lactose. Based on a good understanding of the physiology of the lactic acid bacteria Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, we were able, by selecting spontaneously occurring mutants, to change dramatically the metabolic products secreted into the growth medium. These mutants consume substantially more of the lactose, metabolize some of the galactose, and secrete the remaining galactose and most of the glucose back into the milk. This allows production of yoghurt with very low lactose levels and enhanced natural sweetness, because humans perceive glucose as sweeter than either lactose or galactose.


PMID: 27107115

DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00462-16

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