Bioprospecting for Functionally-Proficient Potential Probiotics
Bijender Kumar Bajaj,
Ingmar J.J. Claes,
The health promoting effects of probiotics have been well established. World Health Organization (WHO) advocates
utilization of prophylactic and therapeutic potential of probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms (single/
mixed cultures) which impart multiple health benefits to the consumer animals or humans. Probiotics include different
lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus sp.), Bifidobacterium, and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii, among several others.
Demand of probiotics has increased in recent years due to enhanced availability of evidences for health benefits. Isolation
of novel strains of probiotics with proficient health benefitting characteristics has gained immense research impetus considering
that health benefits of probiotics cannot be generalized i.e. health benefitting attributes earmarked in one strain or
species may not be necessarily present in other members of genus/species or strains. Therefore, bioprospecting of novel
probiotic strains from unexplored ecological niches could be advantageous for targeting novel strains with potential functional
characteristics for future applications in food/pharmaceutical industries. In addition, this practice may help investigating
taxonomic characteristics of microbial isolates/strains for potentially novel biotechnological applications. Sources
for isolation of probiotics could be immensely diverse e.g. traditional fermented foods, plant, animal, human and marine
sources. Proficient probiotics must possess certain desired characteristics like ability to survive in the gut environment,
adhesion ability in intestine, antagonistic potential against pathogens, devoid of antibiotic resistance, exopolysaccharide
producing ability, among others. Furthermore, should a single organism not possess all such desired features, a combination
may be used as probiotics. Current article describes the recent developments in the area of bioprospecting of probiotics.
Keywords: Probiotics, isolation, sources, selection-criteria, health benefits.
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