Author(s): Gaudu P, Vido K, Cesselin B, Kulakauskas S, Tremblay J,
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Abstract We recently reported that the well-studied fermenting bacterium Lactococcus lactis could grow via a respirative metabolism in the presence of oxygen when a heme source is present. Respiration induces profound changes in L. lactis metabolism, and improvement of oxygen tolerance and long-term survival. Compared to usual fermentation conditions, biomass is approximately doubled by the end of growth, acid production is reduced, and large amounts of normally minor end products accumulate. Lactococci grown via respiration survive markedly better after long-term storage than fermenting cells. We suggest that growth and survival of lactococci are optimal under respiration-permissive conditions, and not under fermentation conditions as previously supposed. Our results reveal the uniqueness of the L. lactis respiration model. The well-studied 'aerobic' bacteria express multiple terminal cytochrome oxidases, which assure respiration all throughout growth; they also synthesize their own heme. In contrast, the L. lactis cydAB genes encode a single cytochrome oxidase (bd), and heme must be provided. Furthermore, cydAB genes mediate respiration only late in growth. Thus, lactococci exit the lag phase via fermentation even if heme is present, and start respiration in late exponential phase. Our results suggest that the spectacularly improved survival is in part due to reduced intracellular oxidation during respiration. We predict that lactococcal relatives like the Enterococci, and some Lactobacilli, which have reported respiration potential, will display improved survival under respiration-permissive conditions.
This article was published in Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek
and referenced in Mycobacterial Diseases