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Polyol production during heterofermentative growth of the plant isolate Lactobacillus florum 2F

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This study examined the fermentative growth and polyol production of Lactobacillus florum and other plant-associated lactic acid bacteria (LAB).

Methods and results

Sugar consumption and end-product production were measured for Lact. florum 2F in the presence of fructose, glucose and both sugars combined. The genome of Lact. florum was examined for genes required for mannitol and erythritol biosynthesis. The capacity for other plant-associated LAB to synthesize polyols was also assessed.


Lactobacillus florum exhibited higher growth rates and cell yields in the presence of both fructose and glucose. Lactobacillus florum 2F produced lactate, acetate and ethanol as well as erythritol and mannitol. Lactobacillus florum 2F synthesized mannitol during growth on fructose and erythritol during growth on glucose. Gene and protein homology searches identified a mannitol dehydrogenase in the Lact. florum 2F genome but not the genes responsible for erythritol biosynthesis. Lastly, we found that numerous other heterofermentative LAB species synthesize erythritol and/or mannitol.

Significance and impact of the study

Lactobacillus florum is a recently identified, plant-associated, fructophilic LAB species. Our results show that Lact. florum growth rates and heterofermentation end-products differ depending on the sugar substrates present and growth yields can be improved when combinations of sugars are provided. Lactobacillus florum 2F produces erythritol and mannitol, two polyols that are relevant to foods and potentially also in plant environments. The capacity for polyol biosynthesis appears to be common among plant-associated, LAB species.

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