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The spxB gene as a target to identify Lactobacillus casei group species in cheese

Savo Sardaro, Maria Luisa, Levante, Alessia, Bernini, Valentina, Gatti, Monica, Neviani, Erasmo, Lazzi, Camilla
Food microbiology 2016 v.59 pp. 57-65
Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, bacterial communities, cheeses, ecosystems, energy, genes, hydrogen peroxide, microbial growth, monitoring, pyruvate oxidase, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, ripening, starvation, transcription (genetics)
This study focused on the spxB gene, which encodes for pyruvate oxidase. The presence of spxB in the genome and its transcription could be a way to produce energy and allow bacterial growth during carbohydrate starvation. In addition, the activity of pyruvate oxidase, which produces hydrogen peroxide, could be a mechanism for interspecies competition. Because this gene seems to provide advantages for the encoding species for adaptation in complex ecosystems, we studied spxB in a large set of cheese isolates belonging to the Lactobacillus casei group. Through this study, we demonstrated that this gene is widely found in the genomes of members of the L. casei group and shows variability useful for taxonomic studies. In particular, the HRM analysis method allowed for a specific discrimination between Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus paracasei and L. casei. Regarding the coding region, the spxB functionality in cheese was shown for the first time by real-time PCR, and by exploiting the heterogeneity between the L. casei group species, we identified the bacterial communities encoding the spxB gene in this ecosystem. This study allowed for monitoring of the active bacterial community involved in different stages of ripening by following the POX pathway.