Probiotics Biofilm-Integrated Electrospun Nanofiber Membranes: A New Starter Culture for Fermented Milk Production

Electrospun nanofiber membranes are widely investigated in the past few decades as candidates for tissue engineering, which can mimic natural extracellular matrix (ECM) and improve cell adhesion, proliferation, and expression on nanofiber membranes. However, the formation of bacterial biofilms on nanofiber membranes and application of the biofilm-integrated nanofiber membranes remain largely unknown. Here, electrospun cellulose acetate nanofiber membranes are first utilized as scaffold materials for Lactobacillus plantarum (L. plantarum) biofilm formation. Nanofiber membranes proved to be an excellent scaffold for bacteria biofilm with high stability, where biofilms were interlocked with nanofibers forming a cohesive structure. In comparison with planktonic bacteria, L. plantarum biofilms on nanofiber membranes show excellent gastrointestinal resistance. Instead of decreasing, the number of viable cells increased after 3 h digestion in vitro. The L. plantarum biofilm-integrated nanofiber membranes were used as reusable starter cultures for fermented milk production showing excellent fermentative ability and higher survival of L. plantarum during shelf life. The viable cells in fermented milk remained at 11 log CFU/g throughout the reusable batches, which is far above the required value of 7 log CFU/g in commercial products. In addition, the produced fermented milk possesses shorter fermentation time and higher survival of probiotics during shelf life. The results suggest electrospun nanofiber membranes are ideal scaffold materials for bacteria biofilms immobilization in biotechnology and fermentation engineering, which broaden the potential use of electrospun nanofiber membranes in microbiology and strengthen the application of biofilms in fermentation engineering.