Deciphering the metabolism of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii during soy juice fermentation using phenotypic and transcriptional analysis

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2024 Mar 20;90(3):e0193623. doi: 10.1128/aem.01936-23. Epub 2024 Feb 20.


In the context of sustainable diet, the development of soy-based yogurt fermented with lactic acid bacteria is an attractive alternative to dairy yogurts. To decipher the metabolism of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii during soy juice (SJ) fermentation, the whole genome of the strain CIRM-BIA865 (Ld865) was sequenced and annotated. Then Ld865 was used to ferment SJ. Samples were analyzed throughout fermentation for their cell number, carbohydrate, organic acid, free amino acid, and volatile compound contents. Despite acidification, the number of Ld865 cells did not rise, and microscopic observations revealed the elongation of cells from 3.6 µm (inoculation) to 36.9 µm (end of fermentation). This elongation was observed in SJ but not in laboratory-rich medium MRS. Using transcriptomic analysis, we showed that the biosynthesis genes of peptidoglycan and membrane lipids were stably expressed, in line with the cell elongation observed, whereas no genes implicated in cell division were upregulated. Among the main sugars available in SJ (sucrose, raffinose, and stachyose), Ld865 only used sucrose. The transcriptomic analysis showed that Ld865 implemented the two transport systems that it contains to import sucrose: a PTS system and an ABC transporter. To fulfill its nitrogen needs, Ld865 probably first consumed the free amino acids of the SJ and then implemented different oligopeptide transporters and proteolytic/peptidase enzymes. In conclusion, this study showed that Ld865 enables fast acidification of SJ, despite the absence of cell division, leads to a product rich in free amino acids, and also leads to the production of aromatic compounds of interest.

Importance: To reduce the environmental and health concerns related to food, an alternative diet is recommended, containing 50% of plant-based proteins. Soy juice, which is protein rich, is a relevant alternative to animal milk, for the production of yogurt-like products. However, soy "beany" and "green" off-flavors limit the consumption of such products. The lactic acid bacteria (LAB) used for fermentation can help to improve the organoleptic properties of soy products. But metabolic data concerning LAB adapted to soy juice are lacking. The aim of this study was, thus, to decipher the metabolism of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii during fermentation of a soy juice, based on a multidisciplinary approach. This result will contribute to give tracks for a relevant selection of starter. Indeed, the improvement of the organoleptic properties of these types of products could help to promote plant-based proteins in our diet.

Keywords: Lactobacillus delbrueckii; Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii; fermentation; food; genomics; lactic acid bacteria; metabolomics; soy juice; soy milk; transcriptomics; yogurt.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Fermentation
  • Glycine max
  • Lactobacillales* / metabolism
  • Lactobacillus / metabolism
  • Lactobacillus delbrueckii* / genetics
  • Sucrose / metabolism
  • Yogurt / microbiology


  • Amino Acids
  • Sucrose

Supplementary concepts

  • Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii