Comparative genomic and functional analysis of 100 Lactobacillus rhamnosus strains and their comparison with strain GG

Francois P. Douillard*, Angela Ribbera, Ravi Kant, Taija E. Pietila, Hanna M. Jarvinen, Marcel Messing, Cinzia L. Randazzo, Lars Paulin, Pia Laine, Jarmo Ritari, Cinzia Caggia, Tanja Lähteinen, Stan J. J. Brouns, Reetta Satokari, Ingemar von Ossowski, Justus Reunanen, Airi Palva, Willem M. de Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a lactic acid bacterium that is found in a large variety of ecological habitats, including artisanal and industrial dairy products, the oral cavity, intestinal tract or vagina. To gain insights into the genetic complexity and ecological versatility of the species L. rhamnosus, we examined the genomes and phenotypes of 100 L. rhamnosus strains isolated from diverse sources. The genomes of 100 L. rhamnosus strains were mapped onto the L. rhamnosus GG reference genome. These strains were phenotypically characterized for a wide range of metabolic, antagonistic, signalling and functional properties. Phylogenomic analysis showed multiple groupings of the species that could partly be associated with their ecological niches. We identified 17 highly variable regions that encode functions related to lifestyle, i.e. carbohydrate transport and metabolism, production of mucus-binding pili, bile salt resistance, prophages and CRISPR adaptive immunity. Integration of the phenotypic and genomic data revealed that some L. rhamnosus strains possibly resided in multiple niches, illustrating the dynamics of bacterial habitats. The present study showed two distinctive geno-phenotypes in the L. rhamnosus species. The geno-phenotype A suggests an adaptation to stable nutrient-rich niches, i.e. milk-derivative products, reflected by the alteration or loss of biological functions associated with antimicrobial activity spectrum, stress resistance, adaptability and fitness to a distinctive range of habitats. In contrast, the geno-phenotype B displays adequate traits to a variable environment, such as the intestinal tract, in terms of nutrient resources, bacterial population density and host effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1003683
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed




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