The growth phase during which probiotic bacteria are harvested and consumed can strongly influence their performance as health-promoting agents. In this study, global transcriptomic and proteomic changes were studied in the widely used probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG during growth in industrial-type whey medium under strictly defined bioreactor conditions. The expression of 636 genes (P ≤ 0.01) and 116 proteins (P < 0.05) changed significantly over time. Of the significantly differentially produced proteins, 61 were associated with alterations at the transcript level. The most remarkable growth phase-dependent changes occurred during the transition from the exponential to the stationary growth phase and were associated with the shift from glucose fermentation to galactose utilization and the transition from homolactic to mixed acid fermentation. Furthermore, several genes encoding proteins proposed to promote the survival and persistence of L. rhamnosus GG in the host and proteins that directly contribute to human health showed temporal changes in expression. Our results suggest that L. rhamnosus GG has a highly flexible and adaptable metabolism and that the growth stage during which bacterial cells are harvested and consumed should be taken into consideration to gain the maximal benefit from probiotic bacteria.
© 2011 The Authors. Microbial Biotechnology © 2011 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.