In this report, we describe the amino acid metabolism and amino acid dependency of the dairy bacterium Streptococcus thermophilus LMG18311 and compare them with those of two other characterized lactic acid bacteria, Lactococcus lactis and Lactobacillus plantarum. Through the construction of a genome-scale metabolic model of S. thermophilus, the metabolic differences between the three bacteria were visualized by direct projection on a metabolic map. The comparative analysis revealed the minimal amino acid auxotrophy (only histidine and methionine or cysteine) of S. thermophilus LMG18311 and the broad variety of volatiles produced from amino acids compared to the other two bacteria. It also revealed the limited number of pyruvate branches, forcing this strain to use the homofermentative metabolism for growth optimization. In addition, some industrially relevant features could be identified in S. thermophilus, such as the unique pathway for acetaldehyde (yogurt flavor) production and the absence of a complete pentose phosphate pathway. Copyright © 2009, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.