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Characterization of the binding capacity of mercurial species in Lactobacillus strains

Cristina Alcántara, Carlos Jadán-Piedra, Dinoraz Vélez, Vicenta Devesa, Manuel Zúñiga, Vicente Monedero
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 2017 April 19

BACKGROUND: Metal sequestration by bacteria has been proposed as a strategy to counteract metal contamination in foodstuffs. Lactobacilli can interact with metals, although studies with important foodborne metals such as inorganic [Hg(II)] or organic (CH3 Hg) mercury are lacking. Lactobacilli were evaluated for their potential to bind these contaminants and the nature of the interaction was assessed by the use of metal competitors, chemical and enzymatical treatments, and mutants affected in the cell wall structure.

RESULTS: Lactobacillus strains efficiently bound Hg(II) and CH3 Hg. Mercury binding by Lactobacillus casei BL23 was independent of cell viability. In BL23, both forms of mercury were cell wall bound. Their interaction was not inhibited by cations and it was resistant to chelating agents and protein digestion. Lactobacillus casei mutants affected in genes involved in the modulation of the negative charge of the cell wall anionic polymer lipoteichoic acid showed increased mercury biosorption. In these mutants, mercury toxicity was enhanced compared to wild-type bacteria. These data suggest that lipoteichoic acid itself or the physicochemical characteristics that it confers to the cell wall play a major role in mercury complexation.

CONCLUSION: This is the first example of the biosorption of Hg(II) and CH3 Hg in lactobacilli and it represents a first step towards their possible use as agents for diminishing mercury bioaccessibility from food at the gastrointestinal tract. © 2017 Society of Chemical Industry.


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