Surface characteristics of lactobacilli isolated from human vagina

J Gen Appl Microbiol. 1999 Oct;45(5):203-212. doi: 10.2323/jgam.45.203.


In the present paper, the taxonomic classification of 134 lactobacilli isolates from vaginal samples of 200 women of Tucumán, Argentina, is reported. They were clustered in three metabolic groups of the genus Lactobacillus, most belonging to the obligately homofermentative group (56%), mainly represented by Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii and L. acidophilus. In the facultatively heterofermentative group (24%), the dominant species were L. paracasei subsp. paracasei and L. agilis, and in the obligately heterofermentative group (20%), L. brevis was the dominant species. All strains were studied for surface characteristics and adhesion-predicting properties. A correlation between the methods employed for hydrophobicity testing of the different isolates (Microbial Adhesion to Hydrocarbons and Salt Aggregation Test) is reported. Most strains were highly hydrophobic. Their hemagglutination capability with human erythrocytes was also tested, which was positive only for a few strains. Some isolates were self-aggregating. From our results, strains that shared the properties assayed were selected for further testing of some other desirable characteristics, such as antagonistic substance production, adhesion to biological substrates, and appropriate technological properties, to suggest the elaboration of a probiotic for the vaginal tract.