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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the 10th Symposium on Lactic Acid Bacterium

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Genomic diversity and versatility of Lactobacillus plantarum, a natural metabolic engineer

Roland J Siezen1234* and Johan ET van Hylckama Vlieg135

Author Affiliations

1 Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation, NIZO food research, P.O. Box 20, 6710 BA Ede, The Netherlands

2 Centre for Molecular and Biomolecular Informatics, NCMLS, Radboud University Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

3 TI Food and Nutrition, P.O. Box 557, 6700 AN Wageningen, The Netherlands

4 Netherlands Bioinformatics Centre, 260 NBIC, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, the Netherlands

5 Danone Research, R.D. 128, Avenue de la Vauve, F-91767 Palaiseau Cedex, France

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Microbial Cell Factories 2011, 10(Suppl 1):S3  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-10-S1-S3

Published: 30 August 2011


In the past decade it has become clear that the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus plantarum occupies a diverse range of environmental niches and has an enormous diversity in phenotypic properties, metabolic capacity and industrial applications. In this review, we describe how genome sequencing, comparative genome hybridization and comparative genomics has provided insight into the underlying genomic diversity and versatility of L. plantarum. One of the main features appears to be genomic life-style islands consisting of numerous functional gene cassettes, in particular for carbohydrates utilization, which can be acquired, shuffled, substituted or deleted in response to niche requirements. In this sense, L. plantarum can be considered a “natural metabolic engineer”.