Impact of a Probiotic-Based Cleaning Intervention on the Microbiota Ecosystem of the Hospital Surfaces: Focus on the Resistome Remodulation

PLoS One. 2016 Feb 17;11(2):e0148857. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148857. eCollection 2016.


Background: Contamination of hospital surfaces by clinically-relevant pathogens represents a major concern in healthcare facilities, due to its impact on transmission of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and to the growing drug resistance of HAI-associated pathogens. Routinely used chemical disinfectants show limitations in controlling pathogen contamination, due to their inefficacy in preventing recontamination and selection of resistant strains. Recently we observed that an innovative approach, based on a cleanser added with spores of non-pathogenic probiotic Bacilli, was effective in stably counteracting the growth of several pathogens contaminating hospital surfaces.

Methods: Here, we wanted to study the impact of the Bacillus-based cleanser on the drug-resistance features of the healthcare pathogens population. In parallel, the ability of cleanser-derived Bacilli to infect hospitalized patients was also investigated.

Results: Collected data showed that Bacilli spores can germinate on dry inanimate surfaces, generating the bacterial vegetative forms which counteract the growth of pathogens and effectively substitute for them on treated surfaces. Strikingly, this procedure did not select resistant species, but conversely induced an evident decrease of antibiotic resistance genes in the contaminating microbial population. Also importantly, all the six HAI-positive patients hosted in the treated areas resulted negative for probiotic Bacilli, thus adding evidences to their safety-to-use.

Conclusions: These results indicate that this probiotic-based procedure is active not only in controlling surface microbial contamination but also in lowering drug-resistant species, suggesting that it may have relevant clinical and therapeutical implications for the management of HAIs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus / genetics
  • Bacillus / isolation & purification
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Detergents / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / drug effects*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics
  • Ecosystem*
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Hospitals*
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Microbiota / drug effects*
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • Probiotics / pharmacology*
  • Spores, Bacterial / drug effects


  • Detergents

Grants and funding

This study was financially supported by COPMA scrl (Ferrara, Italy). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.