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SPOREBIOTICS
Spore probiotics: An alternative to antibiotics in animal husbandry

The overuse of antibiotics in the farming industry has profound public health implications. Of most concern are the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria and the transfer of these bacteria from farm animals to humans. This year Denmark has made the landmark decision of banning antimicrobials as growth promoters in pigs. This decision reinforces several key actions in the 5th framework in 'finding antibiotic alternatives' and 'reducing their use in animal husbandry'. One option is the use of probiotics or CE agents. It has been recently discovered that bacterial spores are effective CE agents and can suppress the colonisation of an E. coli pathogen in poultry. This project will determine how spores work as CE agents/probiotics and how to exploit them commercially.

Objectives
Bacterial spores will be evaluated and developed as alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters in animal husbandry. Spores offer unique advantages over other probiotic bacteria/competitive exclusion (CE) agents (for example, Lactobacilli spp) since they are extremely robust and could be pre-mixed with animal feed. The objectives of this project are:
1) to establish the efficacy of Bacillus spore forming species in suppressing a known pathogen in either mice or poultry
2) to establish how spores suppress a pathogen
3) to identify new spore forming species that are indigenous to the animal being treated (this being an important ethical consideration)
4) to develop the optimum strategy for producing large quantities of spores by fermentation.
5) to exploit spores in the agricultural industry by commercial sale of spores with proven efficacy using existing partners in this proposal.

Results
The overall aims of this study were to isolate Bacillus spp from poultry and to test them as probiotic / competitive exclusion (CE) agents. Of those that showed potential as CE agents, evidence was to be gained to show that they were intrinsically safe for use and that methods for their commercial scale production with a view to commercialisation was feasible. All of these aims were met and from the studies a number of significant conclusions may be drawnlisted below.
Bacillus isolates from poultry are highly diverse.
All Bacillus spp. elaborated some virulence factors.
Bacillus spp showed variation in the ability to kill non-Bacillus bacteria.
Need to develop well founded selection criteria for probiotics/CE agents.
In vivo studies prove Bacillus isolates can be effective probiotics/CE agents.
Commercialisation is a prospect for the agents developed in this study.
Spores can be developed into vaccine vectors.

Classified in ANIMALS, HUMAN HEALTH AND WELLBEING

Scientist responsible for the project

Mr JOHN MORRIS
Woodham Lane, New Haw
KT15 3NB Addlestone
United Kingdom (The) - GB

Phone: +44 1932 357479
Fax: +44 1932 357214
E-mail: jamorris@vla.maff.gsi.gov.uk

References

Project ID QLRT-2000-01729
Organisation MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 November 2001
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 2 392 962 €
Total EC contribution   1 954 226 €
Status Completed

The partners

  • INSTITUTO DE TECNOLOGIA QUIMICA E BIOLOGICA, Portugal - PT
    gea@itqb.unl.pt
  • ROYAL HOLLOWAY AND BEDFORD NEW COLLEGE,UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, United Kingdom (The) - GB
    j.ross@rhbnc.ac.uk
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