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Sugar-glycerol cofermentations in lactobacilli: the fate of lactate.

  • M Veiga da Cunha
  • M A Foster
Publication Date
Feb 01, 1992
  • Biology


The simultaneous fermentation of glycerol and sugar by lactobacillus brevis B22 and Lactobacillus buchneri B190 increases both the growth rate and total growth. The reduction of glycerol to 1,3-propanediol by the lactobacilli was found to influence the metabolism of the sugar cofermented by channelling some of the intermediate metabolites (e.g., pyruvate) towards NADH-producing (rather than NADH-consuming) reactions. Ultimately, the absolute requirement for NADH to prevent the accumulation of 3-hydroxypropionaldehyde leads to a novel lactate-glycerol cofermentation. As a result, additional ATP can be made not only by (i) converting pyruvate to acetate via acetyl phosphate rather than to the ethanol usually found and (ii) oxidizing part of the intermediate pyruvate to acetate instead of the usual reduction to lactate but also by (iii) reoxidation of accumulated lactate to acetate via pyruvate. The conversion of lactate to pyruvate is probably catalyzed by NAD-independent lactate dehydrogenases that are found only in the cultures oxidizing lactate and producing 1,3-propanediol, suggesting a correlation between the expression of these enzymes and a raised intracellular NAD/NADH ratio. The enzymes metabolizing glycerol (glycerol dehydratase and 1,3-propanediol dehydrogenase) were expressed in concert without necessary induction by added glycerol, although their expression may also be influenced by the intracellular NAD/NADH ratio set by the different carbohydrates fermented.

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