Genomics of probiotics and prebiotics

Daniel J. O'Sullivan, Prakash M. Halami

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The scientific understanding of the probiotic concept has come a long way, since it was first conceived over a hundred years ago by Elie Metchnikoff in his insightful book, ‘The Prolongation of Life’ (Metchnikoff and Mitchell 1907). However, there is still a significant way to go before the association of specific probiotic health benefits with specific strains of bacteria can be fully scientifically proven. While many researchers believe this association is already scientifically established for a number of probiotic strains, the current failure of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to approve any probiotic health claim for even the most highly studied strains suggests a better understanding of both the probiotic strain and the mechanism of action for its health benefit is needed. This is substantiated by the frequent use of the term ‘inadequate strain characterization’ by EFSA when rejecting many of these petitions. Genomics holds tremendous promise to address much of the scientific shortfall in probiotic understanding, especially characterization of probiotic strains, and many believe that it will provide the necessary scientific understanding to obtain probiotic strains with the highest efficacy for health claims such that regulatory approval will not be hindered. It is therefore reasonable to predict that regulatory authorities such as EFSA and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) will be satisfied with the scientific evidence associating specific probiotic attributes with specific strains in the not too distant future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProbiotics and Prebiotics in Food, Nutrition and Health
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781466586246
ISBN (Print)9781466586239
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


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