Enhancement of trehalose production in dairy propionibacteria through manipulation of environmental conditions

Filipa S. Cardoso, Paula Gaspar, Jeroen Hugenholtz, Ana Ramos, Helena Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We have shown that the ability to produce trehalose is widespread within the genus Propionibacterium. Eighteen strains isolated from dairy sources were screened for trehalose synthesis; the effect of environmental conditions on trehalose production was evaluated in Propionibacterium freudenreichii ssp. shermanii NIZO B365, a strain that accumulated high amounts of this disaccharide. Lactose was the best carbohydrate source for trehalose production, whereas lactate, the substrate that led to the highest specific growth rate, was a poor precursor. Trehalose was consumed after exhaustion of the carbon source in the medium, suggesting its role as a reserve compound. The production of trehalose was not affected by lowering the growth temperature from 30 to 20 °C. On the other hand, the maximum trehalose accumulation increased from about 200 to 400 mg of trehalose/g of cell protein upon decreasing the pH from 7.0 to 4.7, by increasing the concentration of NaCl to 2% (w/v), or during growth under aerobic conditions (50% air saturation, 24 µM O2, pH 7.0). In the absence of NaCl, trehalose accumulated concomitantly with growth, but an increase in salinity triggered a high trehalose production already in the early exponential growth phase. The data provide evidence for a dual function of trehalose as a reserve compound and as a stress-response metabolite. Moreover, P. freudenreichii ssp. shermanii NIZO B365 was able to produce high levels of trehalose in skim milk, which is promising for the implementation of fermented dairy products.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Trehalose production
  • Propionibacteria
  • Nutraceutical
  • Oxygen


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