Probiotic Bifidobacteria DataBase
The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. In this framework, probiotic strains should be regarded as safe for human and animal consumption, i.e., they should possess the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status, notified by the local authorities. Consistently, strains of selected Bifidobacterium species are extensively used as probiotic agents for their efficacy in preventing and treating a broad spectrum of human and/or animal gastrointestinal disorders.
Despite probiotic properties are often genus- or species-wide, strain-level differences in the genetic features conferring individual probiotic properties to commercialized bifidobacterial strains have not been investigated in detail.
In this study, we built a genomic database of the main bifidobacterial strains used in probiotic products for which a publicly available genome is available, including B. longum ssp. longum, B. longum ssp. infantis, B. bifidum, B. breve,and B. animalis ssp. lactis. These were employed to perform comparative genome analyses focused on genetic factors conferring structural, functional, and chemical features predicted to be involved in microbe-host and microbe-microbe interactions, such as the glycosyl hydrolase arsenal, the pili- and bacteriocins-encoding genes, and the production of antimicrobial resistances compounds.
Accordingly, our analyses revealed a range of unique genetic features, reflecting the existence of strain-specific genetic traits, involved in dialoguing with the host. Since commercial products involving probiotic supplements usually reports only general details with a focus on the species employed, data collected in this study highlight the importance of providing detailed strain-level information based on both in silico and in vitro investigations.