Food products and supplements containing probiotic bacteria are a rapidly expanding market as research has shown that ingestion of probiotic bacteria can confer health benefits and aid in the treatment or management of an array of acute or chronic intestinal diseases,. Probiotic bacteria include members of the Lactobacillus species, which are found in fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir, and now many probiotic-containing foods or supplements include product information about the number of bacteria present in a dose or serving.
The soaring demand for probiotic products has created a need for high-throughput quantification of probiotic bacteria. Standard microbiological techniques have been typically used to estimate bacterial counts, but these approaches are time consuming and only measure replication of bacteria, which can underestimate the number of bacteria in the viable but non-culturable state. (VBNC). Flow cytometry has emerged as a superior method for enumerating probiotic bacteria for several reasons:
- Flow cytometry protocols use viability dyes to stain bacteria and do not require multi-day bacterial culture steps.
- Flow cytometry protocols can measure multiple bacterial parameters including DNA replication, metabolic activity, and membrane integrity.
- Flow cytometry protocols can be adapted to measure probiotic bacteria in complex matrices like starter cultures or dairy products.
- Flow cytometry protocols can be scaled up to run in high-throughput capacities.
Contract research organizations are recognizing the demand for probiotic bacteria quantification and are developing validated assays to meet the industry’s needs. Flow cytometry-based quantification is becoming the industry standard and is worth consideration if you are a probiotic researcher or supplement/food manufacturer.
Learn More About Flow Cytometry
- Flow Cytometry White Papers
- Flow Cytometry Infographics & Charts
- Flow Cytometry Scientific Posters
- Flow Cytometry Videos
 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2002). Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Working Group on Drafting Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food. London, Ontario. Canada
 Sánchez, B., Delgado, S., Blanco‐Míguez, A., Lourenço, A., Gueimonde, M., & Margolles, A. (2017). Probiotics, gut microbiota, and their influence on host health and disease. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 61(1)
 Davis, C. (2014). Enumeration of probiotic strains: review of culture-dependent and alternative techniques to quantify viable bacteria. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 103, 9-17.