News last update:6 Aug 2012

Making probiotics work is not straightforward

“The proposal to use a probiotic with a limited number of species to manipulate the many billions of bacteria in the gut is not straightforward,” says Kiotechagil's chief technical officer Murray Hyden.

“The healthy gut is a ‘mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship’ not a simple mixture.”
With the intestine containing between 300 and 1,000 different species (typically 500) it is important to remember that bacteria require four basic things to grow - warmth, food, water and the correct pH conditions.
“The gut is generally anaerobic so we can discount oxygen,” says Hyden. “The only thing we may be able to influence is pH.”
  • Acidophilic bacteria grow best at pH 1 – 5.4 (includes Lactic acid producing probiotics)
  • Neutrophilic bacteria grow best from pH 5.4 – 8.5 (includes most common pathogens)
  • Alkalophilic bacteria grow from pH 7.0 to 11.5 (includes Vibrio cholera)
So as pH becomes more alkaline different species become more dominant:

Minimum pH
Optimum pH
Maximum pH
Lactobacillus acidophilus
Salmonella typhi
In lactation or laying / breeder rations calcium carbonate (as a calcium source) raises intestinal pH increasing the risk of pathogens and reducing lactic acid producers.
Other factors such as stress and disease challenge also have an effect on the gut.
“Adding a Lactobacillus to an intestine at pH7.5 will not automatically reverse the process as the acidophilic bacterial membranes of many potential probiotics cannot function under neutral conditions so they will be at an immediate disadvantage and will not grow,” said Hyden.
“By adding protected acids like Salkil to provide acidic platforms where acidophilic bacteria can establish, will provide an ideal opportunity for Lactobacilli to provide the lactic and other acids to help re-establish a healthy gut microflora from the remnants of the original healthy gut microflora.”
“Given the correct pH conditions probiotics work quickly to produce more acid (lactic and acetic) which can exclude Salmonella and Escherichia as well as inhibiting ammonia production of the amino-acid-fermenting Clostridia,” continued Hyden.
“The use of acidified platforms to support probiotics gives the greatest opportunity for disease control in all species.”
Related website: Kiotechagil

Dick Ziggers

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