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Integrate genome-based assessment of safety for probiotic strains: Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 as a case study

Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Elisa Salvetti, Luigi OrrĂ¹, Vittorio Capozzi, Alessia Martina, Antonella Lamontanara, David Keller, Howard Cash, Giovanna E. Felis, Luigi Cattivelli, Sandra Torriani, Giuseppe Spano

Abstract

Abstract Probiotics are microorganisms that confer beneficial effects on the host; nevertheless, before being allowed for human consumption, their safety must be verified with accurate protocols. In the genomic era, such procedures should take into account the genomic-based approaches. This study aims at assessing the safety traits of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 integrating the most updated genomics-based procedures and conventional phenotypic assays. Special attention was paid to putative virulence factors (VF), antibiotic resistance (AR) genes and genes encoding enzymes responsible for harmful metabolites (i.e. biogenic amines, BAs). This probiotic strain was phenotypically resistant to streptomycin and kanamycin, although the genome analysis suggested that the AR-related genes were not easily transferrable to other bacteria, and no other genes with potential safety risks, such as those related to VF or BA production, were retrieved. Furthermore, no unstable elements that could potentially lead to genomic rearrangements were detected. Moreover, a workflow is proposed to allow the proper taxonomic identification of a microbial strain and the accurate evaluation of risk-related gene traits, combining whole genome sequencing analysis with updated bioinformatics tools and standard phenotypic assays. The workflow presented can be generalized as a guideline for the safety investigation of novel probiotic strains to help stakeholders (from scientists to manufacturers and consumers) to meet regulatory requirements and avoid misleading information.

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