Feasibility Study into the Use of DNA Sequencing for the Identification of Probiotic Bacteria

Claire Bushell and Malcolm Burnsa, Molecular and Cell Biology, LGC, Queens Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LY, UK.

a To whom all correspondence should be sent. E-mail: Malcolm.Burns@lgcgroup.com , Telephone: (+44) (0)208 943 7000, Fax: (+44) (0)208 943 2767


In recent years the European Union and UK markets have witnessed a large increase in the availability of probiotic foods and food supplements. The current study investigated the use of the molecular biology techniques of PCR and DNA sequencing for the detection and identification of probiotic bacteria. The aim was to provide “proof of principle” of the applicability of these methods in the area of food analysis. These methods have the potential to improve efficacy of identification compared to more traditional culture approaches, as well as providing a confirmatory role. The work involved amplifying specific regions of DNA from a selection of probiotic bacteria commonly found in foods, followed by sequencing and species identification using sequence databases. Initial results showed clear potential for successful species identification, however issues relating to the use of generic assays, background contamination of reagents with bacterial species and interpretation of database results were also highlighted.

Keywords: DNA sequencing, PCR, Probiotic bacteria, 16S, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus

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