Although the epicentres of probiotic research in the past decade have been Japan and Europe, researchers in the Asia-Pacific region have actively contributed to the growing understanding of the intestinal microbial ecosystem, and interactions between gut bacteria, diet and health of the human host. A number of new probiotic strains have been developed in the region that have been demonstrated to have beneficial impacts on health in animal and human trials, including improved protection against intestinal pathogens and modulation of the immune system. Probiotics targeted to animals, including aquaculture, feature heavily in many Asian countries. Developments in probiotic technologies have included microencapsulation techniques, antimicrobial production in fermented meats, and synbiotic combinations. In particular, the impact of resistant starch on the intestinal environment and fermentation by intestinal bacteria has been intensively studied and new probiotic strains selected specifically for synbiotic combinations with resistant starch. This paper provides an overview of probiotic research within Australia, New Zealand and a number of Asian countries, and lists scientists in the Asia-Pacific region involved in various aspects of probiotic research and development.
Keywords: probiotic, prebiotic, lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, salmonella, intestine, dairy, resistant starch