Employing lytic phage-mediated horizontal gene transfer in Lactococcus lactis.
ABSTRACT: Lactococcus lactis is a lactic acid bacterium widely used as a starter culture in the manufacture of dairy products, especially a wide variety of cheeses. Improved industrial strains would help to manufacture better food products that can meet the industry's and consumer's demands with respect to e.g. quality, taste, texture and shelf life. Bacteriophage infection of L. lactis starter cultures represents one of the main causes of fermentation failure and consequent economic losses for the dairy industry. In this study, however, we aim at employing bacteriophages for beneficial purposes. We developed an experimental setup to assess whether phage-mediated horizontal gene transfer could be used to enhance the genetic characteristics of L. lactis strains in accordance with the European law regarding the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food industry. Although we could not show the transfer of chromosomal DNA we did successfully transduce two dissimilar plasmids from L. lactis strain MG1363 to one of its derivatives employing three different lactococcal bacteriophages.
Project description:Lactococcus lactis is a Gram-positive lactic acid bacterium commonly used in the dairy industry for the production of fermented foods such as buttermilk and a wide variety of cheeses. Here, we report the complete genome sequences of 28 bacteriophages infecting different L. lactis industrial starter strains isolated from dairy plants throughout the world.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Lactococcus lactis is industrially employed to manufacture various fermented dairy products. The most cost-effective method for the preservation of L. lactis starter cultures is spray drying, but during this process cultures encounter heat and oxidative stress, typically resulting in low survival rates. However, viability of starter cultures is essential for their adequate contribution to milk fermentation, supporting the ambition to better understand and improve their robustness phenotypes. RESULTS: This study describes a transcriptome-phenotype matching approach in which the starter L. lactis MG1363 was fermented under a variety of conditions that differed in the levels of oxygen and/or salt, as well as the fermentation pH and temperature. Samples derived from these fermentations in the exponential phase of bacterial growth were analyzed by full-genome transcriptomics and the assessment of heat and oxidative stress phenotypes. Variations in the fermentation conditions resulted in up to 1000-fold differences in survival during heat and oxidative stress. More specifically, aeration during fermentation induced protection against heat stress, whereas a relatively high fermentation temperature resulted in enhanced robustness towards oxidative stress. Concomitantly, oxygen levels and fermentation temperature induced differential expression of markedly more genes when compared with the other fermentation parameters. Correlation analysis of robustness phenotypes and gene expression levels revealed transcriptome signatures for oxidative and/or heat stress survival, including the metC-cysK operon involved in methionine and cysteine metabolism. To validate this transcriptome-phenotype association we grew L. lactis MG1363 in the absence of cysteine which led to enhanced robustness towards oxidative stress. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, we demonstrated the importance of careful selection of fermentation parameters prior to industrial processing of starter cultures. Furthermore, established stress genes as well as novel genes were associated with robustness towards heat and/or oxidative stress. Assessment of the expression levels of this group of genes could function as an indicator for enhanced selection of fermentation parameters resulting in improved robustness during spray drying. The increased robustness after growth without cysteine appeared to confirm the role of expression of the metC-cysK operon as an indicator of robustness and suggests that sulfur amino acid metabolism plays a pivotal role in oxidative stress survival.
Project description:Lactococcus lactis is a Gram-positive bacterium widely used as a starter culture for the production of different dairy products, especially a large variety of cheeses. Infection of lactococcal starter cultures by bacteriophages is one of the major causes of fermentation failure and often leads to production halt. Lactococcal bacteriophages belonging to the c2, 936, and P335 species are the most commonly isolated in dairy plants and have been extensively investigated in the past three decades. Information regarding bacteriophages belonging to less commonly isolated species is, on the other hand, less extensive, although these phages can also contribute to starter culture infection. Here, we report the nucleotide sequence of the newly isolated L. lactis phage CHPC971, belonging to the rare 1706 species of lactococcal phages. We investigated the nature of the host receptor recognized by the phage and collected evidence that strongly suggests that it binds to a specific sugar moiety in the cell wall pellicle of its host. An in silico analysis of the genome of phage CHPC971 identified the hypothetical genes involved in receptor binding.IMPORTANCE Gathering information on how lactococcal bacteriophages recognize their host and proliferate in the dairy environment is of vital importance for the establishment of proper starter culture rotation plans and to avoid fermentation failure and consequent great economic losses for dairy industries. We provide strong evidence on the type of receptor recognized by a newly isolated 1706-type lactococcal bacteriophage, increasing knowledge of phage-host interactions relevant to dairying. This information can help to prevent phage infection events that, so far, are hard to predict and avoid.
Project description:Lactococcus lactis is one of the most important bacteria in dairy fermentations, being used in the production of cheese and buttermilk. The processes are vulnerable to phage attacks, and undefined mixtures of lactococcal strains are often used to reduce the risk of bacteriophage caused fermentation failure. Other preventive measures include culture rotation to prevent phage build-up and phage monitoring. Phage diversity, rather than quantity, is the largest threat to fermentations using undefined mixed starter cultures. We have developed a method for culture independent diversity analysis of lytic bacteriophages of the 936 group, the phages most commonly found in dairies. Using, as a target, a highly variable region of the portal protein gene, we demonstrate an unprecedented diversity and the presence of new 936 phages in samples taken from cheese production. The method should be useful to the dairy industry and starter culture manufacturers in their efforts to reduce phage problems.
Project description:A large collection of Lactococcus lactis strains, including wild-type isolates and dairy starter cultures, were screened on the basis of their phenotype and the macrorestriction patterns produced from pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis of SmaI digests of genomic DNA. Three groups of dairy starter cultures, used for different purposes in the dairy industry, and a fourth group made up of strains isolated from the environment were selected for analysis of their chromosomal diversity using the endonuclease I-CeuI. Chromosome architecture was largely conserved with each strain having six copies of the rRNA genes, and the chromosome size of individual strains ranged between 2,240 and 2,688 kb. The origin of L. lactis strains showed the greatest correlation with chromosome size, and dairy strains, particularly those with the cremoris phenotype, had smaller chromosomes than wild-type strains. Overall, this study, coupled with analysis of the sequenced L. lactis genomes, provides evidence that defined strain dairy starter cultures have arisen from plant L. lactis strains. Adaptation of these strains to the dairy environment has involved loss of functions resulting in smaller chromosomes and acquisition of genes (usually plasmid associated) that facilitate growth in milk. We conclude that dairy starter cultures generally and the industrially used cremoris and diacetylactis phenotype strains in particular comprise a specialized group of L. lactis strains that have been selected to become an essential component of industrial processes and have evolved accordingly, so that they are no longer fit to survive outside the dairy environment.
Project description:Lactate dehydrogenase (ldh) gene sequences, levels of 16S rRNA group-specific probe binding, and phenotypic characteristics were compared for 45 environmental isolates and four commercial starter strains of Lactococcus lactis to identify evolutionary groups best suited to cheddar cheese manufacture, ldh sequences from the environmental isolates showed high similarity to those from two groups of L. lactis used for industrial fermentations, L. lactis subsp. cremoris and subsp. lactis. Within each phylogenetically defined subspecies, ldh sequence similarities were greater than 99.1%. Strains with phenotypic traits formerly diagnostic for both subspecies were found in each ldh similarity group, but only strains belonging to L. lactis subsp. cremoris by both the newer, genetic and the older, superseded phenotypic criteria were judged potentially suitable for the commercial production of cheddar cheese. Identical evolutionary relationships were inferred from ldh sequences and from binding of subspecies-specific, 16S rRNA-directed oligonucleotide probes. However, groups defined according to these chromosomal traits bore no relationship to patterns of arginine deamination, carbon substrate utilization, or bacteriophage sensitivity, which may be encoded by cryptic genes or sexually transmissible genetic elements. Fourteen new L. lactis subsp. cremoris isolates were identified as suitable candidates for cheddar cheese manufacture, and 10 of these were completely resistant to three different batteries of commercial bacteriophages known to reduce starter activity.
Project description:It is well known that consumers are keen to try fermented milk products with different flavors and starter cultures are important in determining the resulting fermented dairy products. Here, we present the phenome of 227 Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis isolates from traditionally fermented dairy products and the selection of potential starter strains. Large-scale phenotyping revealed significant technological diversity in fermentation characteristics amongst the isolates including variation in fermentation time, viscosity, water holding capacity (WHC) and free amino nitrogen (FAN) production. The 16 isolates with the best fermentation characteristics were compared, in a sensory evaluation, with the commercial starter Chr. Hansen R-704 as excellent fermentation characteristics to identify potential starter isolates and find the isolate which can product good flavors. From these, and from solid phase micro extraction (SPME) - gas chromatography (GC)-mass spectrometry (MS) analysis, we identified IMAU11823 and IMAU11919 as producing 3-methyl butanal and 3-methyl-2-butanone which contribute to the malt aroma. This study expands the characterization of L. lactis subsp. lactis phenotypic dataset and technological diversity and identified isolates with potential culture starter in the fermentation industry.
Project description:Undefined mesophilic mixed (DL-type) starter cultures are composed of predominantly Lactococcus lactis subspecies and 1-10% Leuconostoc spp. The composition of the Leuconostoc population in the starter culture ultimately affects the characteristics and the quality of the final product. The scientific basis for the taxonomy of dairy relevant leuconostocs can be traced back 50 years, and no documentation on the genomic diversity of leuconostocs in starter cultures exists. We present data on the Leuconostoc population in five DL-type starter cultures commonly used by the dairy industry. The analyses were performed using traditional cultivation methods, and further augmented by next-generation DNA sequencing methods. Bacterial counts for starter cultures cultivated on two different media, MRS and MPCA, revealed large differences in the relative abundance of leuconostocs. Most of the leuconostocs in two of the starter cultures were unable to grow on MRS, emphasizing the limitations of culture-based methods and the importance of careful media selection or use of culture independent methods. Pan-genomic analysis of 59 Leuconostoc genomes enabled differentiation into twelve robust lineages. The genomic analyses show that the dairy-associated leuconostocs are highly adapted to their environment, characterized by the acquisition of genotype traits, such as the ability to metabolize citrate. In particular, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris display telltale signs of a degenerative evolution, likely resulting from a long period of growth in milk in association with lactococci. Great differences in the metabolic potential between Leuconostoc species and subspecies were revealed. Using targeted amplicon sequencing, the composition of the Leuconostoc population in the five commercial starter cultures was shown to be significantly different. Three of the cultures were dominated by Ln. mesenteroides subspecies cremoris. Leuconostoc pseudomesenteroides dominated in two of the cultures while Leuconostoc lactis, reported to be a major constituent in fermented dairy products, was only present in low amounts in one of the cultures. This is the first in-depth study of Leuconostoc genomics and diversity in dairy starter cultures. The results and the techniques presented may be of great value for the dairy industry.
Project description:The dairy starter bacterium Lactococcus lactis is able to synthesize folate and accumulates large amounts of folate, predominantly in the polyglutamyl form. Only small amounts of the produced folate are released in the extracellular medium. Five genes involved in folate biosynthesis were identified in a folate gene cluster in L. lactis MG1363: folA, folB, folKE, folP, and folC. The gene folKE encodes the biprotein 2-amino-4-hydroxy-6-hydroxymethyldihydropteridine pyrophosphokinase and GTP cyclohydrolase I. The overexpression of folKE in L. lactis was found to increase the extracellular folate production almost 10-fold, while the total folate production increased almost 3-fold. The controlled combined overexpression of folKE and folC, encoding polyglutamyl folate synthetase, increased the retention of folate in the cell. The cloning and overexpression of folA, encoding dihydrofolate reductase, decreased the folate production twofold, suggesting a feedback inhibition of reduced folates on folate biosynthesis.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Lactococcus lactis is the most used species in the dairy industry. Its ability to adapt to technological stresses, such as oxidative stress encountered during stirring in the first stages of the cheese-making process, is a key factor to measure its technological performance. This study aimed to understand the response to oxidative stress of Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris MG1363 at the transcriptional and metabolic levels in relation to acidification kinetics and growth conditions, especially at an early stage of growth. For those purposes, conditions of hyper-oxygenation were initially fixed for the fermentation.<h4>Results</h4>Kinetics of growth and acidification were not affected by the presence of oxygen, indicating a high resistance to oxygen of the L. lactis MG1363 strain. Its resistance was explained by an efficient consumption of oxygen within the first 4 hours of culture, leading to a drop of the redox potential. The efficient consumption of oxygen by the L. lactis MG1363 strain was supported by a coherent and early adaptation to oxygen after 1 hour of culture at both gene expression and metabolic levels. In oxygen metabolism, the over-expression of all the genes of the nrd (ribonucleotide reductases) operon or fhu (ferrichrome ABC transports) genes was particularly significant. In carbon metabolism, the presence of oxygen led to an early shift at the gene level in the pyruvate pathway towards the acetate/2,3-butanediol pathway confirmed by the kinetics of metabolite production. Finally, the MG1363 strain was no longer able to consume oxygen in the stationary growth phase, leading to a drastic loss of culturability as a consequence of cumulative stresses and the absence of gene adaptation at this stage.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Combining metabolic and transcriptomic profiling, together with oxygen consumption kinetics, yielded new insights into the whole genome adaptation of L. lactis to initial oxidative stress. An early and transitional adaptation to oxidative stress was revealed for L. lactis subsp. cremoris MG1363 in the presence of initially high levels of oxygen. This enables the cells to maintain key traits that are of great importance for industry, such as rapid acidification and reduction of the redox potential of the growth media.