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Evaluation of bacterial polymers as protective agents for sensitive probiotic bacteriaAdebayo, Olajumoke O. (2018)Probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer one or more health benefits on the host. Different processing conditions, the acidic condition of the stomach and exposure to hydrolytic enzymes affect the viability and efficacy of probiotic organisms. This study investigated the protective effects of two biopolymers poly-gamma-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) and bacterial cellulose (BC) on probiotics during freeze drying and during exposure to simulated intestinal juices and bile salts. The antibacterial property of Bifidobacterium strains was also investigated against four pathogenic bacteria. γ-PGA, a naturally occurring biopolymer was produced by two bacteria (Bacillus subtilis ATCC 15245 and B. licheniformis ATCC 9945a) in GS and E media, γ-PGA yields of about 14.11g/l were achieved in shake flasks and molecular weight of up to 1620 k Da was recorded, γ-PGA production was scaled up in a fermenter with B. subtilis using GS medium. BC, an edible biopolymer was produced by Gluconacetobacter xylinus ATCC 23770 in HS medium and a modified HS (MHS) medium. A yield of about 1.37g/l was recorded and BC production with MHS medium was used for probiotic application. B. longum NCIMB 8809 B. breve NCIMB 8807 and B. animalis NCIMB 702716 showed the best antimicrobial properties against the investigated pathogens. Survival of Bifidobacterium strains was improved when protected with powdered BC (PBC) although γ-PGA offered better protection than PBC. Viability of B. longum NCIMB 8809, B. breve NCIMB 8807 and B. animalis NCIMB 702716 in simulated gastric juice (SGJ) and simulated intestinal juice with bile salts was improved when protected with 5% γ-PGA and 5% γ-PGA+PBC with a reduction of <1 Log CFU/ml while a reduction of ≤2 Log CFU/ml was recorded in PBC protected cells. Protecting Bifidobacterium strains with γ-PGA, PBC or a novel γ-PGA + PBC combination is a promising method to deliver probiotic bacteria to the target site in order to confer their health benefits on the host.