Bacteriocinogenic Lactococcus lactis subsp: lactis DF04Mi isolated from goat milk: Evaluation of the probiotic potential

Danielle N. Furtado Svetoslav D. Todorov Mariza Landgraf Maria T. Destro Bernadette D.G.M. Franco About the authors


Lactic acid bacteria capable of producing bacteriocins and presenting probiotic potential open innovative technological applications in the dairy industry. In this study, a bacteriocinogenic strain (Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis DF4Mi) was isolated from goat milk, and studied for its probiotic potential. Lc. lactis DF4Mi was resistant to acidic pH and oxbile, presented co-aggregation with Listeria monocytogenes, and was not affected by several drugs from different generic groups, being sensitive to most tested antibiotics. These properties indicate that this Lc. lactis strain can be used for enhancement of dairy foods safety and quality, in combination with potential probiotic properties.

bacteriocin; probiotic; Lc. lactis subsp. lactis; biopreservation; goat milk


Bacteriocinogenic Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis DF04Mi isolated from goat milk: Evaluation of the probiotic potential

Danielle N. Furtado; Svetoslav D. Todorov; Mariza Landgraf; Maria T. Destro; Bernadette D.G.M. Franco

Laboratório de Microbiologia de Alimentos, Departamento de Alimentos e Nutrição Experimental, Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil



Lactic acid bacteria capable of producing bacteriocins and presenting probiotic potential open innovative technological applications in the dairy industry. In this study, a bacteriocinogenic strain (Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis DF4Mi) was isolated from goat milk, and studied for its probiotic potential. Lc. lactis DF4Mi was resistant to acidic pH and oxbile, presented co-aggregation with Listeria monocytogenes, and was not affected by several drugs from different generic groups, being sensitive to most tested antibiotics. These properties indicate that this Lc. lactis strain can be used for enhancement of dairy foods safety and quality, in combination with potential probiotic properties.

Key words: bacteriocin, probiotic, Lc. lactis subsp. lactis, biopreservation, goat milk.


Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) present many important properties in food manufacturing, such as improvement of organoleptic and physical characteristics, production of lactic acid contributing to the extension of the shelf life, and reduction of lactose content. Several LAB are used in dairy industries as starter cultures as well as probiotics. Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer health benefits to the host (WHO, 2002; Bertazonni-Minelli et al., 2004; Oelschaeger, 2010; Todorov et al., 2012). Probiotic beneficial effect for the host include suppression of growth of pathogens, control of serum cholesterol level, modulation of the immune system, improvement of lactose digestion, synthesis of vitamins, increase in bio-availability of minerals and possible anti-carcinogenic activity (Gomes and Xavier, 1999; Kailasapathy and Chin, 2000; Chan and Zhang, 2005). Bacteriocin producing LAB may also present a probiotic potential if capable of surviving the harsh conditions in the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT), including low pH and high concentrations of bile salts. As probiotics, these bacteria can confer health benefits to the host such as reduction of gastrointestinal infections and inflammatory bowel disease, modulation of the immune system, and defense against colonization by pathogenic microorganisms (WHO, 2002; Galdeano et al., 2007; Oelschlaeger, 2010).

Aggregation of LAB is an important feature in evaluation of potential probiotic properties. While auto-aggregation may result in biofilm formation, co-aggregation with pathogens is important for elimination of non-desirable strains from the GIT (Todorov and Dicks, 2008). These capabilities are strain-specific and depend on species-specific surface proteins that recognize or bind to components in the environment. According to Kleerebezem et al. (2003), several genes encoding for surface proteins are homologous to genes coding for proteins with predicted functions, such as mucus-binding, aggregation-promotion and intracellular adhesion.

In the evaluation of a possible probiotic potential of LAB it is important to check for antibiotic resistance as they can act as potential reservoirs of resistance genes that can be transferred to other microorganisms, producing multidrug resistant strains (Dicks et al., 2011). Probiotic consumers may be under treatment for a variety of illnesses, and the beneficial effects of the probiotic strain may be hampered by possible interactions with the medicaments used by these consumers. It should be emphasized that the interaction between antibiotics or other medicaments and probiotic bacteria in the GIT depends on their concentration in this environment (Todorov et al., 2007; Todorov et al., 2008), so establishing the Minimal Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) values play an important role for the proper evaluation of these interactions. Of higher importance are the drugs for treatment of chronic diseases normally used in long course treatments, since they may accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract and affect the viability of probiotic bacteria (Carvalho et al., 2009).

Application of bacteriocinogenic strains for dairy product preservation is in agreement with consumers' demands for foods that are naturally preserved. Additional claims of health-promoting benefits due to probiotic activity bring extra value to these foods. In this study we report results on the evaluation of the probiotic potential of the strain Lc. lactis DF04Mi.

Materials and Methods

Bacterial strains

The study was conducted with a bacteriocinogenic Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis strain (Lc. lactis DF04Mi) isolated from raw goat milk (Furtado et al., 2009). L. monocytogenes 711 (collection of University of São Paulo, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Food Science and Experimental Nutrition) and E. faecalis ATCC 19433 and Lactobacillus sakei ATCC 15521 (ATCC, Manassas, Virginia, USA) were used as co-aggregation partners. All strains were stored at -80 °C in presence of 15% glycerol.

Auto-aggregation and co-aggregation with L. monocytogenes 711, E. faecalis ATCC 19433 and Lb. sakei ATCC 15521

The cells of a culture of Lc. lactis DF04Mi grown in MRS broth (Difco) for 24 h at 37 °C were harvested by centrifugation (7,000 x g, 10 min, 20 °C), washed and resuspended in sterile saline (0.85% NaCl, w/v). One ml of the cell suspension adjusted to an OD660nm = 0.3 was transferred to a 2 mL sterile plastic cuvette and the OD660nm recorded, using a spectrophotometer (Ultraspec 2000, Pharmacia Biotech). After 60 min OD660nm readings were performed in the supernatant, after centrifuging the cultures at 300 x g for 2 min at 20 °C. Auto-aggregation was determined using the following equation (Todorov et al., 2008):

OD0min and OD60min refer to the initial OD and the OD determined after 60 min, respectively.

For evaluation of co-aggregation strains Lc. lactis DF04Mi, E. faecalis ATCC 19433 and Lb. sakei ATCC 15521 were grown in 10 mL MRS at 30 °C and L. monocytogenes 711 in 10 mL BHI at 37 °C. Cells were harvested after 24 h (7,000 x g, 10 min, 20 °C), washed and re-suspended in sterile saline (0.85% NaCl). One ml of the cell suspension of Lc. lactis DF04Mi (adjusted to an OD660nm = 0.3) and 1 mL of co-aggregation partner (adjusted to an OD660nm = 0.3) were mixed and transferred to a 2 mL sterile plastic cuvette and the OD660nm recorded using a spectrophotometer. OD660nm readings were performed in the supernatant after 60 min and after centrifuging the suspension at 300 x g for 2 min at 20 °C. Co-aggregation was calculated using the following equation (Todorov et al., 2008):

OD0min and OD60min refer to the OD determined immediately after mixing the cultures and the OD determined after 60 min, respectively. Experiments were conducted in triplicates on two separate occasions.

Effect of pH and bile on growth

Lc. lactis DF04Mi was grown in MRS broth (Difco) adjusted to pH 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0, 7.0, 9.0, 11.0 and 13.0 by adding 1 M HCl or 1 M NaOH before autoclaving. If needed, pH was re-adjusted after sterilization by adding sterile 1 M HCl or 1 M NaOH. The strain was also grown in MRS broth containing 0.2%, 0.4%, 0.6%, 0.8%, 1.0%, 2.0% and 3.0% (w/v) oxbile (Sigma). All tests were conducted in sterile flat-bottom 96-well microtiter plates (TPP, Switzerland). Each well was filled with 180 µL of the medium and inoculated with 20 µL of cultures of Lc. lactis DF04Mi activated in MRS broth (Difco) at 37 °C until presenting OD600nm = 0.2. Growth of Lc. lactis DF04Mi in the tested conditions was monitored through determination of OD600nm every hour for 12 h, using a microtiter plate reader (Versa-max, Sunnyvale, CA, USA). Cultures grown in non-modified MRS broth served as control. Experiments were done in triplicate.

Determination of cell surface hydrophobicity in Lc. lactis DF04Mi

The test for bacterial adhesion to hydrocarbons (BATH), described by Doyle and Rosenberg (1995) with some modification (Todorov et al., 2008), was used. Lc. lactic DF04Mi was grown in MRS broth (Difco) at 37 °C for 18 h. Cells were harvested (6,700 g, 4 °C, 6 min), washed twice with sterile saline solution (0.85% NaCl), resuspended in the same solution and the optical density (OD580nm) was determined. An aliquot e of 1.5 mL cell suspension was added to 1.5 mL n-hexadecane (Sigma) and vortexed for 2 min. The phases were allowed to separate for 30 min at room temperature. One ml of the watery phase was removed and the optical density (OD580nm) determined. The experiment was repeated and the average optical density value determined. The percentage of hydrophobicity was calculated as follows:

Experiments with all strains were conducted in triplicate.

Resistance to drugs and antibiotics

Lc. lactis DF04Mi was tested for resistance to several drugs used in human and animal therapy, purchased in local drugstores (Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil) and solubilized in sterile water to achieve the desired concentration listed in Table 1. An overnight culture of Lc. lactis DF04Mi in MRS broth (Difco) was mixed with MRS soft agar (1.0%, w/v, Difco) in order to achieve a population of 106 cfu/mL and transferred to empty petri plates. After solidification of the agar 10 µL of each tested drug were spotted onto the surface. The plates were incubated at 37 °C for 24 h, examined for the presence of inhibition zones around the spotted drug, and those presenting inhibition zones larger than 2 mm diameter were subjected to the determination of the minimal inhibition concentration (MIC). For this test, serial two-fold dilutions of the drug were prepared in sterile water and 10 µL were spotted onto the surface of MRS soft agar plates, previously inoculated with strain Lc. lactis DF04Mi (approx. 106 cfu/mL). The plates were incubated for 24 h at 37 °C and examined for the presence of inhibition zones around the spots. The MIC corresponded to the highest dilution that resulted in inhibition halos of at least 2 mm diameter. In a similar experimental approach, susceptibility of strain Lc. lactis DF04Mi to antibiotics listed in Table 2 was tested by the disk diffusion test, using antibiotic disks from CEFAR (Sao Paulo, Brazil). The inhibitory effect of the antibiotics was expressed in millimeters of the inhibition zones.

Results and Discussion

Bacteriocin produced by Lc. lactis DF04Mi presented a large spectrum of activity, inhibiting the growth of many food spoilage bacteria and foodborne pathogens. Similar results were recorded for the cell free supernatant and for the semi-purified bacteriocin. It is important to emphasize the bioactivity against L. monocytogenes, a foodborne pathogen of increasing importance. Antimicrobial activity against Gram-negative bacteria is also a relevant characteristic that was previously detected in other microorganisms including bacteriocins produced by Lc. lactis DF04Mi (Furtado et al., 2009).

Auto-aggregation of Lc. lactis DF04Mi was low (12.2%) (Figure 1). Co-aggregation of Lc. lactis DF04Mi with the pathogens L. monocytogenes 711 and E. faecalis ATCC 19443 was 30.0% and 24.3%, respectively, which are lower values than for Lb. sakei ATCC 15521, a non-pathogen. The low levels of auto-aggregation and co-aggregation with pathogens may play an important role in preventing the formation of biofilms, and in this way eliminating the pathogens from the gastrointestinal tract.

Good growth of Lc. lactis DF04Mi was recorded in MRS broth (Difco) when the initial pH was 6.0, 7.0 or 9.0 (Figure 2). Similar results were reported for Lc. lactis subsp. lactis HV219 (Todorov et al., 2007). In another study, growth of several strains of Lb. plantarum, Lb. rhamnosus, Lb. pentosus and Lb. paracasei was suppressed at pH 3.0 and 4.0, while variable results were recorded in medium with an initial pH of 11.0 and 13.0, with poor growth recorded for strains Lb. paracasei ST242BZ and ST284BZ, Lb. rhamnosus ST462BZ, Lb. plantarum ST664BZ and Lb. pentosus ST712BZ at pH 13.0 (Todorov et al., 2008).

Lc. lactis DF04Mi grew well in the absence of oxbile, or when the concentration was below 3.0% (Figure 2). The bacteriocinogenic Lc. lactis HV219 strain was less tolerant to bile salts, as the growth of it was inhibited by concentrations of oxbile above 0.3% (Todorov et al., 2007).

Other studies have also reported similar effects of oxbile and pH for different strains of Lc. lactis, such as Lb. plantarum 423, Lb. salivarius 241 and Lb. curvatus DF38 (Brink et al., 2006). Haller et al. (2001) reported variable results for different strains of Lb. plantarum when exposed to HCl (pH 2.0) and bile salts, and as many as 10% of Lb. plantarum cells, but less than 0.001% of Lb. sakei and Lb. paracasei cells survived these conditions. Although these assays cannot predict the behavior of the microorganism in the human body, the results are valuable in selecting Lactococcus spp. for probiotic applications, as resistance to low pH and high concentrations of bile salts is important for growth and survival of bacteria in the intestinal tract (Havenaar et al., 1992; Carvalho et al., 2009).

It has been suggested that there is a possible correlation between surface hydrophobicity of probiotic strains and the ability to adhere to the intestinal mucosa (Wadstrom et al., 1987). Cell surface hydrophobicity defines a non-specific interaction between microbial and host cells. The initial interaction may be weak, is often reversible and precedes subsequent adhesion processes mediated by more specific mechanisms involving cell-surface proteins and lipoteichoic acids (Granato et al., 1999; Rojas et al., 2002; Roos and Jonsson, 2002). Bacterial cells with a high hydrophobicity usually form strong interactions with mucosal cells. Hydrophobicity values of 52.4% were recorded for Lc. lactis DF04Mi. Higher hydrophobicity values of 75% - 80% were recorded for strains Lb. rhamnosus ST461BZ, Lb. rhamnosus ST462BZ and Lb. plantarum ST664BZ and these values were higher than those reported for Lb. rhamnosus GG, well known commercial probiotic (55%) (Todorov et al., 2008). Hydrophobicity varies among genetically close related species and even among strains of the same species (Schar-Zammaretti and Ubbink, 2003). Some strains with a high cell surface hydrophobicity were not able to properly adhere to Caco-2 and HT-29 cells (Todorov et al., 2008). Strain Lb. pentosus ST712BZ, characterised with a relatively low hydrophobicity (38%) adhered to HT-29 cells at 63%. Only 32% adherence was recorded for Lb. rhamnosus GG (Todorov et al., 2008). Although hydrophobicity may assist in adhesion, it is not a prerequisite for strong adherence to human intestinal cells.

The effect of drugs on the survival of probiotic strains is important for patients being treated for chronic diseases and taking probiotics. As shown in Table 1, Lc. lactis DF04Mi was inhibited by antiarrhrythmic drugs containing amiodarone, by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs containing potassium diclofenac or ibuprofen arginine, and by the two tested antibiotics (amoxyl and urotrobel). The interference of anti-inflammatory drugs containing diclofenac on the viability of LAB detected in this study was also reported for other bacteriocinogenic LAB such as Lb. plantarum ST8KF and ST341LD, E. faecium ST311LD and Le. mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides ST33LD (Todorov and Dicks, 2008), Lc. lactis subsp. lactis HV219 (Todorov et al., 2007), Lb. casei Shirota and Lb. casei LC01 (Carvalho et al., 2009) and Lb. casei Shirota (Botes et al., 2008).

It should be pointed out that the activity of these medicaments against potential probiotic bacteria depends on the amount of the active compound that reaches the GIT, and that the correct evaluation of possible interactions between them depends on the determination of MIC of these medicaments (Todorov et al., 2007, 2008). Due to their long-term application, drugs may accumulate in the GIT and MIC be reached, affecting the viability of the probiotic cultures.

The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were the medicaments that affected Lc. lactis DF04Mi more significantly and potassium diclofenac presented MIC of 0.16 mg/mL and spidufen of 7.5 mg/mL. Considering that the recommended daily doses of these two drugs are 100-150 mg and 600 mg respectively, they will hardly affect the survival of Lc. lactis DF04Mi. Similar results were reported in other studies run with other probiotic LAB and gastrointestinal tract related bacteria (Botes et al., 2008; Todorov and Dicks, 2008; Carvalho et al., 2009; Todorov et al., 2007, 2008).

Except for metronidasole, nalidixic acid and trimetoprim, all the antibiotics tested (Table 2) in this study inhibited the growth of Lc. lactis DF04Mi to some extent. However, it is important to point out that nalidixic acid is an antibiotic mostly active against Gram-negative bacteria. Resistance of LAB to antibiotics is a controversial subject. It is important to keep in mind that antibiotic-resistant probiotic LAB may be responsible for horizontal transfer of resistance genes to other bacteria present in the human GIT (Dicks et al., 2011). Resistance may be inherent to a bacterial genus or species, but may also be acquired through exchange of genetic material, mutations or incorporation of new genes (Ammor et al., 2007). Teuber (1999) and Salyers et al. (2004) suggested that starter cultures and probiotics may serve as vectors in the transfer of antibiotic resistant genes. Such transfer was documented in other bacterial groups by Levy and Marshall (2004) and Salyers et al. (2004).

Results gathered in this study indicate the potential application of Lc. lactis DF04Mi isolated from goat milk for manufacturing of novel and functional goat milk products, with increased safety as it is capable to produce bacteriocins with antilisterial activity and presents several features that suggest probiotic activity.


This research was supported by grants from FAPESP (Sao Paulo, SP), CAPES (Brasilia, DF) and CNPq (Brasilia, DF), Brazil.

  • Correspondence:
    S.D. Todorov
    Laboratório de Microbiologia de Alimentos
    Departamento de Alimentos e Nutrição Experimental
    Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas
    Universidade de São Paulo
    Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes 580
    05508-000 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
  • Submitted: July 12, 2013

    Approved: March 14, 2014

    All the content of the journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License CC BY-NC.

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    Correspondence: S.D. Todorov Laboratório de Microbiologia de Alimentos Departamento de Alimentos e Nutrição Experimental Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas Universidade de São Paulo Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes 580 05508-000 São Paulo, SP, Brazil E-mail:

    Publication Dates

    • Publication in this collection
      04 Nov 2014
    • Date of issue
      Sept 2014


    • Accepted
      14 Mar 2014
    • Received
      12 July 2013
    Sociedade Brasileira de Microbiologia USP - ICB III - Dep. de Microbiologia, Sociedade Brasileira de Microbiologia, Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, 2415, Cidade Universitária, 05508-900 São Paulo, SP - Brasil, Ramal USP 7979, Tel. / Fax: (55 11) 3813-9647 ou 3037-7095 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil