• isomerisation;
  • lactulose;
  • galactooligosaccharides;
  • transgalactosylation;
  • Bacillus circulans;
  • whey permeate



Lactose from cheese whey permeate (WP) was efficiently isomerised to lactulose using egg shell, a food-grade catalyst, and the subsequent transgalactosylation reaction of this mixture with β-galactosidase from Bacillus circulans gave rise to a wide array of prebiotic carbohydrates derived from lactose and lactulose.


Lactulose obtained by efficient isomerisation of WP (16.1% by weight with respect to the initial amount of lactose) showed great resistance to the hydrolytic action of β-galactosidase from B. circulans, which preferentially hydrolysed lactose, acting as a galactosyl donor and acceptor. Lactulose had capacity as an acceptor, leading to the formation of lactulose-derived oligosaccharides. The enzymatic synthesis was optimised by studying reaction conditions such as pH, temperature, time, enzyme concentration and carbohydrate concentration. The maximum formation of galactooligosaccharides with degrees of polymerisation from 2 to 4 was achieved after 5 h of reaction at pH 6.5 and 50 °C with 300 g kg−1 carbohydrates and 3 U mL−1 β-galactosidase.


These findings indicate that the transgalactosylation of isomerised WP with β-galactosidase from B. circulans could be a new and efficient method to obtain a mixture with 50% of potentially prebiotic carbohydrates composed of lactulose, and galactooligosaccharides derived from lactose and lactulose.