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Keywords:

  • Adaptation;
  • Experimental evolution;
  • Lactobacillus plantarum;
  • Murine gastrointestinal tract;
  • Probiotic bacteria

Abstract

Probiotic bacteria harbor effector molecules that confer health benefits, but also adaptation factors that enable them to persist in the gastrointestinal tract of the consumer. To study these adaptation factors, an antibiotic-resistant derivative of the probiotic model organism Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 was repeatedly exposed to the mouse digestive tract by three consecutive rounds of (re)feeding of the longest persisting colonies. This exposure to the murine intestine allowed the isolation of intestine-adapted derivatives of the original strain that displayed prolonged digestive tract residence time. Re-sequencing of the genomes of these adapted derivatives revealed single nucleotide polymorphisms as well as a single nucleotide insertion in comparison with the genome of the original WCFS1 strain. Detailed in silico analysis of the identified genomic modifications pinpointed that alterations in the coding regions of genes encoding cell envelope associated functions and energy metabolism appeared to be beneficial for the gastrointestinal tract survival of L. plantarum WCFS1. This work demonstrates the feasibility of experimental evolution for the enhancement of the gastrointestinal residence time of probiotic strains, while full-genome re-sequencing of the adapted isolates provided clues towards the bacterial functions involved. Enhanced gastrointestinal residence is industrially relevant because it enhances the efficacy of the delivery of viable probiotics in situ.