The S-layer-encoding genes of 21 Lactobacillus helveticus strains were characterized. Phylogenetic analysis based on the identified S-layer genes revealed two main clusters, one which includes a sequence similar to that of the slpH1 gene of L. helveticus CNRZ 892 and a second cluster which includes genes similar to that of prtY. These results were further confirmed by Southern blot hybridization. This study demonstrates S-layer gene variability in the species L. helveticus.
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