The genomic basis of Lactobacilli as health-promoting organisms

Thumbnail Image
Salvetti, Elisa
O'Toole, Paul W.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
American Society for Microbiology
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Lactobacilli occupy a unique position in human culture and scientific history. Like brewer's and baker's yeast, lactobacilli have been associated with food production and preservation for thousands of years. Lactobacillus species are used in mixed microbial cultures, such as the classical Lactobacillus bulgaricus/Streptococcus thermophilus inoculum for yogurt fermentation, or combinations of diverse lactobacilli/yeasts in kefir grains. The association of lactobacilli consumption with greater longevity and improved health formed the basis for developing lactobacilli as probiotics, whose market has exploded worldwide in the past 10 years. The decade that followed the determination of the first genome sequence of a food-associated species, Lactobacillus plantarum, saw the application to lactobacilli of a full range of functional genomics methods to identify the genes and gene products that govern their distinctive phenotypes and health associations. In this review, we will briefly remind the reader of the range of beneficial effects attributed to lactobacilli, and then explain the phylogenomic basis for the distribution of these traits across the genus. Recognizing the strain specificity of probiotic effects, we review studies of intraspecific genomic variation and their contributions to identifying probiotic traits. Finally we offer a perspective on classification of lactobacilli into new genera in a scheme that will make attributing probiotic properties to clades, taxa, and species more logical and more robust.
Lactic-acid bacteria , Fermentum cect 5716 , Plantarum wcfs1 , Rhamnosus gg , Gastrointestinal-tract , Competitive-exclusion , Vaginal lactobacilli , Functional-analysis , Immune modulation , Probiotic strain
Salvetti, E. and O’Toole, P. W. (2017) 'The genomic basis of Lactobacilli as health-promoting organisms', Microbiology Spectrum, 5(3). pp. 1-17. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.BAD-0011-2016
© 2017, American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved.