The objective of this study was to evaluate the probiotic properties of Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus fermentum strains, as well as to select novel and safe strains for future development of functional fermented products. The in vitro auto-aggregation, co-aggregation, hydrophobicity, β-galactosidase production, survival to gastrointestinal tract (GIT), and antibiotic susceptibility were evaluated. The selected strains were additionally tested by the presence of genes encoding adhesion, aggregation and colonization, virulence factors, antibiotic resistance, and biogenic amine production, followed by the evaluation of acidifying kinetic parameters in milk, and survival of the strains under simulated GIT conditions during refrigerated storage of fermented milk. Most strains of both species showed high auto-aggregation; some strains showed co-aggregation ability with other lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and/or pathogens, and both species showed low hydrophobicity values. Seven L. casei and six L. fermentum strains produced β-galactosidase enzymes, and ten strains survived well the simulation of the GIT stressful conditions evaluated in vitro. All strains were resistant to vancomycin, and almost all the strains were resistant to kanamycin. L. casei SJRP38 and L. fermentum SJRP43 were distinguished among the other LAB strains by their higher probiotic potential. L. fermentum SJRP43 presented fewer genes related to virulence factors and antibiotic resistance and needed more time to reach the maximum acidification rate (Vmax). The other kinetic parameters were similar. Both strains survived well (> 8 log10 CFU/mL) to the GIT-simulated conditions when incorporated in fermented milk. Therefore, these strains presented promising properties for further applications in fermented functional products.
Keywords: Beneficial effects; Intestinal microorganisms; Lactic acid bacteria; Probiotic microorganisms.