Applied and environmental microbiology

Hydroxycinnamic acids used as external acceptors of electrons: an energetic advantage for strictly heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria.

PMID 25261518


The metabolism of hydroxycinnamic acids by strictly heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria (19 strains) was investigated as a potential alternative energy route. Lactobacillus curvatus PE5 was the most tolerant to hydroxycinnamic acids, followed by strains of Weissella spp., Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides, for which the MIC values were the same. The highest sensitivity was found for Lactobacillus rossiae strains. During growth in MRS broth, lactic acid bacteria reduced caffeic, p-coumaric, and ferulic acids into dihydrocaffeic, phloretic, and dihydroferulic acids, respectively, or decarboxylated hydroxycinnamic acids into the corresponding vinyl derivatives and then reduced the latter compounds to ethyl compounds. Reductase activities mainly emerged, and the activities of selected strains were further investigated in chemically defined basal medium (CDM) under anaerobic conditions. The end products of carbon metabolism were quantified, as were the levels of intracellular ATP and the NAD(+)/NADH ratio. Electron and carbon balances and theoretical ATP/glucose yields were also estimated. When CDM was supplemented with hydroxycinnamic acids, the synthesis of ethanol decreased and the concentration of acetic acid increased. The levels of these metabolites reflected on the alcohol dehydrogenase and acetate kinase activities. Overall, some biochemical traits distinguished the common metabolism of strictly heterofermentative strains: main reductase activity toward hydroxycinnamic acids, a shift from alcohol dehydrogenase to acetate kinase activities, an increase in the NAD(+)/NADH ratio, and the accumulation of supplementary intracellular ATP. Taken together, the above-described metabolic responses suggest that strictly heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria mainly use hydroxycinnamic acids as external acceptors of electrons.