A comparative study of two strains of Lactobacillus plantarum (REB1 and MLBPL1) grown in commercial medium (MRS broth), cucumber juice, and liquid pig feed was performed to explore changes to the metabolic pathways of these bacteria, using a proteomics approach (two-dimensional electrophoresis and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry) combined with analyses of fermentable sugars and fermentation end products. The protein expression showed that even with an excess of glucose in all media, both strains could metabolize different carbohydrates simultaneously and that hexoses could also be used via a phosphoketolase pathway with preferential expression in liquid feed. Sugar analyses showed that the fermentation of sugars was homolactic for all media, with some heterolactic activity in liquid feed, as shown by the production of acetate. Cucumber juice (the medium with the highest glucose content) showed the lowest hexose consumption (10%), followed by liquid feed (33%) and MRS broth (50%). However, bacterial growth was significantly higher in cucumber juice and liquid feed than in MRS broth. This discrepancy was due to the growth benefit obtained from the utilization of the malate present in cucumber juice and liquid feed. Despite different growth conditions, the synthesis of essential cellular components and the stress response of the bacteria were unaffected. This study has improved our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the growth performance of an appropriate lactic acid bacterium strain to be used for food and feed fermentation, information that is of crucial importance to obtain a high-quality fermented product.
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