Probiotics: Their Tiny Worlds Are Under Scrutiny

Image: Courtesy of Mark Neysmith, © Gregor Reid GUT REACTION: Researchers have found that Lactobacillus GR-1 and RC-14 can penetrate Escherichia coli biofilms, multiply, and survive. The human body plays host to a complex and thriving microbial ecosystem of vast numbers of tiny creatures. Some of these species, already well studied, can cause disease. But a renewed appreciation is growing for many lesser-known species called probiotics that help maintain health and may have the pote

Bob Beale
Jul 21, 2002
Image: Courtesy of Mark Neysmith, © Gregor Reid
 GUT REACTION: Researchers have found that Lactobacillus GR-1 and RC-14 can penetrate Escherichia coli biofilms, multiply, and survive.

The human body plays host to a complex and thriving microbial ecosystem of vast numbers of tiny creatures. Some of these species, already well studied, can cause disease. But a renewed appreciation is growing for many lesser-known species called probiotics that help maintain health and may have the potential to prevent disease. A steady stream of research papers on this topic is making its way into scientific and medical journals. The food industry is especially active in studying probiotics because the gastrointestinal tract is one of the richest zones of biodiversity within the body, with at least 400 known species of bacteria commonly found there.

Apart from their possible inclusion in foods or their development as food additives, many medical, dental, and veterinary researchers...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?