The impact of five carbohydrate sources (glucose, maltose, galactose, sucrose, and lactose) on the chemical composition, structure, morphology, and physicochemical properties, as well as, viscosity of exopolysac- charides (EPSs) produced by Lactobacillus rhamnosus E/N was investigated. GLC-MS analysis and 2DNMR spectroscopy showed that the EPSs had the same primary structure independently of the carbon source used in the growth medium. The following EPS composition was elucidated: four rhamnose, two glu- cose, and one galactose residue with a pyruvate substituent. Molecular masses (Mw) were determined by gel permeation chromatography, which revealed differences in Mw distribution. EPS-Gal, EPS-Suc, and EPS-Lac showed heterogenic fractions of a high and low molecular weight, while EPS-Mal and EPS-Glc contained only a high-molecular-weight fraction. AFM microscopy revealed morphological differences in chain length, thickness, and branching. Differences in the Mw ratio and thickness of the polymer chain were correlated with high viscosity of EPS solutions. Our results indicate that a single bacterial strain, depending on the carbon source in the medium, can produce EPSs of different rheological properties.
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