Biofilms of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus fermentum: Effect on stress responses, antagonistic effects on pathogen growth and immunomodulatory properties

Food Microbiol. 2016 Feb;53(Pt A):51-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 Apr 29.


Few studies have extensively investigated probiotic functions associated with biofilms. Here, we show that strains of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus fermentum are able to grow as biofilm on abiotic surfaces, but the biomass density differs between strains. We performed microtiter plate biofilm assays under growth conditions mimicking to the gastrointestinal environment. Osmolarity and low concentrations of bile significantly enhanced Lactobacillus spatial organization. Two L. plantarum strains were able to form biofilms under high concentrations of bile and mucus. We used the agar well-diffusion method to show that supernatants from all Lactobacillus except the NA4 isolate produced food pathogen inhibitory molecules in biofilm. Moreover, TNF-α production by LPS-activated human monocytoid cells was suppressed by supernatants from Lactobacillus cultivated as biofilms but not by planktonic culture supernatants. However, only L. fermentum NA4 showed anti-inflammatory effects in zebrafish embryos fed with probiotic bacteria, as assessed by cytokine transcript level (TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-10). We conclude that the biofilm mode of life is associated with beneficial probiotic properties of lactobacilli, in a strain dependent manner. Those results suggest that characterization of isolate phenotype in the biofilm state could be additional valuable information for the selection of probiotic strains.

Keywords: Immunomodulatory effects; Lactobacillus biofilms; Probiotic; Zebrafish model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibiosis*
  • Bile / microbiology
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Culture Media / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunomodulation
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Lactobacillus fermentum / growth & development*
  • Lactobacillus fermentum / immunology
  • Lactobacillus fermentum / physiology*
  • Lactobacillus plantarum / growth & development*
  • Lactobacillus plantarum / immunology
  • Lactobacillus plantarum / physiology*
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Mucus / microbiology
  • Probiotics*
  • Salmonella enterica / physiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Zebrafish


  • Culture Media
  • IL10 protein, human
  • TNF protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10