Stationary-phase acid and heat treatments for improvement of the viability of probiotic lactobacilli and bifidobacteria


Maria Saarela, VTT Biotechnology, P.O. Box 1500 (Tietotie 2), FIN-02044 VTT, Finland (e-mail:


Aims:  To investigate whether sublethal treatments of stationary-phase probiotic cultures enhance their survival during lethal treatments and to adapt these treatments to the fermenter-scale production of probiotic cultures.

Methods and Results:  Conditions for acid and heat pretreatments were screened for three Lactobacillus and two Bifidobacterium strains. Strains were sublethally treated both at laboratory scale and at fermenter scale in a strain-specific manner and exposed to a subsequent lethal treatment. At laboratory scale viability improvement was detected in each strain. However, improvement was more pronounced in the Lactobacillus than in the Bifidobacterium strains. At fermenter scale three strains were tested: for the two Lactobacillus strains a marked improvement in viability was obtained whereas for the Bifidobacterium strain the improvement was either minor or not detected.

Conclusions:  Development of treatments for viability enhancement of probiotic strains is feasible, but strain-specific optimization is necessary to obtain notable improvements.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  Strain-specific treatments were developed for the viability enhancement of stationary-phase probiotic cells both at laboratory and fermenter scale. These results can be utilised in the production of probiotic cultures with improved viability.