The domestication of the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus acidophilus

Sci Rep. 2014 Nov 26:4:7202. doi: 10.1038/srep07202.


Lactobacillus acidophilus is a Gram-positive lactic acid bacterium that has had widespread historical use in the dairy industry and more recently as a probiotic. Although L. acidophilus has been designated as safe for human consumption, increasing commercial regulation and clinical demands for probiotic validation has resulted in a need to understand its genetic diversity. By drawing on large, well-characterised collections of lactic acid bacteria, we examined L. acidophilus isolates spanning 92 years and including multiple strains in current commercial use. Analysis of the whole genome sequence data set (34 isolate genomes) demonstrated L. acidophilus was a low diversity, monophyletic species with commercial isolates essentially identical at the sequence level. Our results indicate that commercial use has domesticated L. acidophilus with genetically stable, invariant strains being consumed globally by the human population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods*
  • Dairy Products / microbiology*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Genome, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Genomic Instability / genetics*
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus / classification
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus / genetics*
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus / isolation & purification*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Probiotics / analysis
  • Probiotics / classification