During nonventilated storage of carrots, CO 2 gradually accumulates to high levels and causes modifications in the carrot's microbiome toward dominance of Lactobacillales and Enterobacteriales. The lactic acid bacterium Leuconostoc mesenteroides secretes a slimy exudate over the surface of the carrots. The objective of this study was to characterize the slime components and the potential cause for its secretion under high CO 2 levels. A proteomic analysis of the exudate revealed bacterial glucosyltransferases as the main proteins, specifically, dextransucrase. A chemical analysis of the exudate revealed high levels of dextran and several simple sugars. The exudate volume and dextran amount were significantly higher when L. mesenteroides was incubated under high CO 2 levels than when incubated in an aerated environment. The treatment of carrot medium plates with commercial dextransucrase or exudate protein extract resulted in similar sugar profiles and dextran production. Transcriptome analysis demonstrated that dextran production is related to the upregulation of the L. mesenteroides dextransucrase-encoding genes dsrD and dsrT during the first 4 to 8 h of exposure to high CO 2 levels compared to aerated conditions. A phylogenetic analysis of L. mesenteroides YL48 dsrD revealed a high similarity to other dsr genes harbored by different Leuconostoc species. The ecological benefit of dextran production under elevated CO 2 requires further investigation. However, this study implies an overlooked role of CO 2 in the physiology and fitness of L. mesenteroides in stored carrots, and perhaps in other food items, during storage under nonventilated conditions.
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides