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Genome Sequencing Can Help Identify Undesirable Traits in Probiotic Strains

Category: Educational Articles

Genome sequencing is a laboratory process that can be performed with any full copy of DNA. Determining the DNA sequence of an organism can help reveal what each gene making up a genome does, how different genes interact, and how the various parts of the genome are coordinated. By breaking down the sequence, probiotics can be tested for safety and effectiveness, as well as the presence of undesirable traits such as deleterious genes, antibiotic-resistant genes, and plasmids. Sequencing essentially reveals everything there is to know about a bacterial strain.

First, genome sequencing helps identify any deleterious genes that may be present in a probiotic.  Deleterious genes can cause health problems that compromise the capacity of afflicted individuals.

Breaking down the genomic sequence can also identify if the bacteria contains antibiotic-resistant genes. It is important that a supplemental probiotic NOT contain antibiotic-resistant genes. This may seem counterintuitive; shouldn’t you want your probiotic to survive in the gut?  Of course.  However, the fact is that gut bacteria can transfer genetic material among one another. The undesirable bacteria in the gut could acquire antibiotic-resistant genes from other, often harmless, bacteria. Because bacteria containing antibiotic-resistant genes do not respond to specific antibiotics, an infection may be untreatable if caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The increasing number of life-threatening infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria is triggering a rapidly growing global health problem.

Finally, the sequence examines plasmids present in a probiotic strain. A plasmid is a naturally occurring small DNA molecule within a cell that can replicate independently. When a bacterium divides, all the plasmids contained within the cell are copied, such that each daughter cell receives a copy of each plasmid. Bacteria can also transfer plasmids to one another through a process called conjugation. The genes carried in plasmids provide bacteria with genetic advantages, such as resistance to antibiotics or heavy metals—while these new traits may provide an advantage for the organism, they may carry negative consequences for the host.

Genome sequencing is a beneficial tool to better understand any microorganism, including a probiotic. Not only does it help identify any undesirable traits, sequencing reveals genes that support beneficial functions, such as the production of IgG and IgA antibodies for immune response. Armed with the exact makeup of a probiotic, product formulators can make informed decisions and feel confident about the safety and function of the strains they choose for supplement products.

As a producer of probiotic solutions, Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes has put its DE111® probiotic to the test for undesirable traits. Through Deerland’s partnership with Cornell University, DE111 has been fully sequenced for safety and has been uploaded to GenBank, the National Institutes of Health genetic sequence database. By applying genome sequencing to probiotic research, Deerland is able to verify that the highly effective strain of Bacillus subtilis DE111 contains no undesirable traits.

DE111 offers immune system support and helps maintain a healthy gut. Learn more about DE111 and why it’s a superior probiotic at https://www.deerlandenzymes.com/de111/.

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