The endoenzyme β-galactosidase (β-d
-galactoside galactohydrolase; EC 188.8.131.52) has been used at industrial scales for the preparation of lactose-free milk and for the conversion of lactose to galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) prebiotics. In this study, using Plackett–Burman (PB) design and the response surface methodology (RSM), the batch growth conditions for the production of β-galactosidase in DeMan-Rogosa-Sharpe (MRS) media have been studied and optimized for Lactobacillus leichmannii
313 (ATCC 7830™) for the first time. The incubation temperature (30 < T < 55 °C), starting pH (5.5 < pH < 7.5), and carbon source (glucose, lactose, galactose, fructose, and sucrose) were selected as the significant variables for optimization. The maximum crude β-galactosidase production (measured by specific activity) was 4.5 U/mg proteins and was obtained after 12 h of fermentation. The results of the PB design and further optimization by RSM showed that the initial pH of 7.0 and 15.29 g/L of lactose were the levels that gave the optimum observed and predicted β-galactosidase activities of 23.13 U/mg and 23.40 U/mg, respectively. Through RSM optimization, β-galactosidase production increased significantly (over five-fold) in optimized medium (23.13 U/mg), compared with unoptimized medium (4.5 U/mg). Moreover, the crude enzyme obtained was able to hydrolyze lactose and also produce galacto-oligosaccharides. Because its ability to produce β-galactosidase was significantly improved through optimization by RSM, L. leichmannii
313 can serve as a potential source of β-galactosidase for food applications at an industrial scale.
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