Biogenic amine production by Lactobacillus

J Appl Microbiol. 2001 Feb;90(2):158-62. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2672.2001.01223.x.


Aims: The aim of this work was to demonstrate that strains of Lactobacillus may be able to produce putrescine and agmatine from one of the major amino acids present in fruit juices and wine, arginine, and from amino acid-derived ornithine.

Methods and results: Biogenic amines were determined by HPLC. Their production in the culture medium was similar under both microaerophilic and anaerobic conditions. The presence of Mn2+ had a minimal influence on the results, whereas the addition of pyridoxal phosphate increased amine production 10-fold. Lactobacillus hilgardii X1B, isolated from wine, was able to degrade arginine by two pathways: arginine deiminase and arginine decarboxylase. The isolate was able to produce putrescine from ornithine and from agmatine. Lactobacillus plantarum strains N4 and N8, isolated from orange, utilized arginine via the arginine deiminase system. Only the N4 strain was able to produce putrescine from ornithine.

Conclusion: It has been demonstrated that Lact. hilgardii X1B is able to produce the most important biogenic amine found in wine, putrescine, and also agmatine from arginine and ornithine, and that Lactobacillus plantarum, considered to be an innocuous spoilage micro-organism in fruit juices, is able to produce amines.

Significance and impact of the study: The results have significance in relation to food poisoning caused by beverages that have been contaminated with biogenic amines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agmatine / metabolism*
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Beverages / microbiology*
  • Citrus / microbiology*
  • Lactobacillus / growth & development
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Lactobacillus / metabolism*
  • Ornithine / metabolism
  • Putrescine / biosynthesis*
  • Wine / microbiology*


  • Agmatine
  • Arginine
  • Ornithine
  • Putrescine