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Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus iners, and Lactobacillus jensenii are dominant species of the urogenital microbiota. Prior studies suggest that these Lactobacillus species play a significant role in the urobiome of healthy females. In our prior genomic analysis of all publicly available L. jensenii and Lactobacillus mulieris genomes at the time (n = 43), we identified genes unique to these two closely related species. This motivated our further exploration here into their genotypic differences as well as into their phenotypic differences. First, we expanded genome sequence representatives of both species to 61 strains, including publicly available strains and nine new strains sequenced here. Genomic analyses conducted include phylogenetics of the core genome as well as biosynthetic gene cluster analysis and metabolic pathway analyses. Urinary strains of both species were assayed for their ability to utilize four simple carbohydrates. We found that L. jensenii strains can efficiently catabolize maltose, trehalose, and glucose, but not ribose, and L. mulieris strains can utilize maltose and glucose, but not trehalose and ribose. Metabolic pathway analysis clearly shows the lack of treB within L. mulieris strains, indicative of its inability to catabolize external sources of trehalose. While genotypic and phenotypic observations provide insight into the differences between these two species, we did not find any association with urinary symptom status. Through this genomic and phenotypic investigation, we identify markers that can be leveraged to clearly distinguish these two species in investigations of the female urogenital microbiota.


Author Posting © The Authors, 2023. The article was published in Bacteriology, Volume 8, No. 4, June 2023,

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.