Health & Wellbeing

UniBac Genus, Species & Strains Overview

Author: Serena Coan - BSc, DipION, mBANT, CNHC
The taxonomy of bacteria.
The taxonomy of bacteria.

Probiotics are a powerful tool to have at our fingertips, however it can be extremely difficult to know which probiotic to go for as not all are made equal. The structure of probiotics includes a genus, species and strain. The genus is the family of bacteria, such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, within each genus there may be hundreds of species, such as L. acidophilus, and multiple strains within each species, all of which may provide different benefits.

Lactobacillus

Lactobacillus is a genus of bacteria that exist in the human body, they are characterised by the ability to produce lactic acid through fermentation of sugars. Lactic acid producing bacteria are a significant group of probiotics, commonly used in food and with a range of benefits including supporting normal lactose digestion, immune function and bowel movements. Their production of lactic acid creates an acidic environment which is inhospitable for pathogenic bacteria to survive.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

In Essential 9 and Advanced 17

L. acidophilus is found in fermented foods such as some yoghurts, kefir and sauerkraut. It is naturally present in humans and animals, particularly in the human mouth, gut and vaginal flora. This species of bacteria has been used and researched for its support of normal:

  • immune system modulation
  • gastrointestinal ecology
  • gastrointestinal functionality
  • weight management
  • vaginal health
  • urinary tract health
  • management of allergies
  • cognitive health
  • general health

Specific strains of L. acidophilus that are particularly well researched are LA-14 and LA-05.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus

In Essential 9 and Advanced 17

L. rhamnosus is primarily found in fermented dairy products, such as some yoghurts and cheeses. This species is key for gastrointestinal health, however it is highly important for female intimate health and is present in the vaginal flora. This is also one of the species well-researched in pregnancy, presenting support to pre- and post-natal mental health. This species has benefits relating to:

  • oral health
  • normal immune function
  • normal cognitive function
  • vaginal health
  • general health

Some L. rhamnosus strains are the most widely used probiotics, including GG and LR-32.

Lactobacillus plantarum

In Essential 9 and Advanced 17

L. plantarum is found in many fermented foods including sauerkraut, pickles, fermented milk products, brined olives, kimchi, sourdough and fermented sausages. It is another widespread and versatile lactic acid producing bacteria found naturally in humans and animals, particularly in the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. This species has been heavily researched showing support for the below areas of health:

  • normal immune function
  • cholesterol management
  • management of allergies
  • Intestinal absorption of iron and calcium
  • insulin sensitivity
  • general health

Lactobacillus casei

In Essential 9 and Advanced 17

L. casei is closely related to L. rhamnosus and L. paracasei as some of the most widely researched and applied probiotic species. This species is often found in fermented dairy products, providing an improved flavour or texture to the product. It is primarily found in the human intestinal tract and aids maintaining balance of beneficial bacteria through periods of infection particularly in stressed individuals. This species also exerts beneficial effects including supporting normal:

  • gastrointestinal health
  • immune function
  • oral health
  • inflammation moderation
  • management of stress hormones

Lactobacillus paracasei

In Advanced 17

L. paracasei is referred to as a heterofermentative meaning it produces more than just lactic acid, it also produces acetic acid depending on the sugars that are available for fermentation, this makes it a robust species of probiotic. This species is found in the gastrointestinal tract of both animals and humans, and is often used as a starter culture for dairy products.

Daily consumption has shown many benefits including supporting normal:

  • immune function and duration of infections
  • digestive health
  • vaginal health
  • oral health

Lactobacillus reuteri

In Advanced 17

L. reuteri is a species of bacteria present in humans, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, vaginal tract, skin, and breast milk, and one of the early bacteria to colonise in the infant microbiome and therefore influences our health from an early stage. This bacteria can be found in fermented dairy products such as cheese and sourdough cultures.

Well researched in multiple areas due to the ability to translocate in the body, it has been shown to:

  • support normal gastrointestinal health
  • displace pathogenic bacteria
  • support normal female uro-genital health

Lactobacillus gasseri

In Advanced 17

L. gasseri are present in both the human gastrointestinal and female urogenital tract, they can be found in some fermented dairy products and soy products as well as in human breast milk and are therefore an early bacteria to colonise in the infant microbiome.

From an early age, the L. gasseri species have been exhibiting benefits including:

  • inflammation management
  • weight management
  • Supporting normal function of the immune system
  • management of oxidative stress induced fatigue
  • cholesterol management
  • blood sugar balance
  • supporting normal digestive health

Lactobacillus helveticus

In Advanced 17

L. helveticus is very closely associated with L. acidophilus, so much so that some strains can be classified under either bracket of these species depending on which characteristics are being investigated. This species is best known in the dairy industry for contributing to the formation of the characteristic holes in emmental and swiss cheeses.

L. helveticus has been found to account for up to 10% of bacteria in the gut, consequentially having a strong influence on:

  • digestion
  • mental health
  • immune function
  • enzyme activity leading to increased absorption of dietary nutrients
  • infection rates

Lactobacillus salivarius

In Advanced 17

L. salivarius is a lactic acid producing bacteria found throughout the human body, from the small intestine to the vagina, but in particularly high concentration in saliva. Due to this location, it has primarily been researched for the benefits on periodontal health, such as reduced periodontopathic bacteria, but can also provide support:

  • skin health
  • management of pathogenic bacteria
  • vaginal health
  • general oral health

Lactobacillus fermentum

In Advanced 17

L. fermentum is found primarily in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract and vaginal tract in humans and is one of the most abundant species found in natural whey cultures for hard cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano. This bacteria can also be found in raw, naturally fermented french beans, red beets, capers and eggplants. L. fermentum has been used to support:

  • normal oral health
  • immune function
  • liver health
  • upper respiratory tract health

Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp bulgaricus

In Advanced 17

L. delbrueckii is another favourite of the dairy industry, it's used in the production of yoghurt and cheese, and is naturally located in the gastrointestinal tract of animals and humans.

Research shows that this species has:

  • antibacterial activity
  • modulates inflammation
  • protects against pathogenic bacteria
  • supports normal immune function
  • supports the gastrointestinal tract by soothing irritation of the gut lining

Bifidobacterium

Bifidobacterium are one of the first microbes to colonise the infant gut and one of the most influential bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of humans, despite making up only 10% of the bacteria in your gut they have an important role in health. One of the key responsibilities of this bacteria is to digest carbohydrates and fibre that our body may otherwise not.

Bifidobacterium longum subspecies longum

In Advanced 17

B. longum ssp longum is a species found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans. This bacteria produces lactic acid as a by-product from sugar fermentation, creating an inhospitable environment for pathogens aiding:

  • modulation of the gut microbiome
  • digestive health
  • normal immune function against infectious diseases

Bifidobacterium animalis ssp lactis

In Advanced 17

B. animalis ssp. lactis is a species found naturally in the human gastrointestinal tract, as well as growing well in milk cultures. This particular species has been well studied for its effect in the management of infant colic, despite this being a phenomenon that is still not entirely understood there have been benefits from supporting gut health. This species also:

  • reduces potentially pathogenic bacteria
  • supports maintenance of beneficial bacteria
  • soothes the intestinal lining
  • aids digestive health
  • supports normal function of the immune system

Bifidobacterium bifidum

In Essential 9 and Advanced 17

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B. bifidum is a key organism in the human gastrointestinal system from the early days of life, it can also be found in some fermented dairy products.This species is considered one of the dominant species of bacteria in the infant microbiome, supporting normal health from an early stage. B. bifidum has well-studied showing:

  • antibacterial properties
  • reductions in presence of pathogenic bacteria
  • modulation of the immune system
  • inflammation management

Bifidobacterium breve

In Essential 9 and Advanced 17

B. breve is commonly isolated from the infant gut microbiome and is found to be present in human breast milk, and joins other species as one of the first bacteria to colonise in the infant gut. This species can therefore exert benefits from early on, supporting:

  • normal function of the immune system
  • respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract
  • Reduced presence of potentially pathogenic bacteria

Bifidobacterium lactis

In Essential 9

B. lactis is found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans, where it adheres well to the gut lining and exerts a number of beneficial effects. This species supports:

  • normal function of the digestive system (including bowel function)
  • normal immune function
  • skin health
  • management of the inflammatory response following gluten consumption

Lactococcus

In a similar manner to Lactobacillus, Lactococcus ferments sugars to produce lactic acid and is often used as dairy starter cultures for the fermentation of milk and ripening of hard cheese.

Lactococcus lactis subspecies lactis

In Essential 9 and Advanced 17

L. lactis ssp. lactis is found in the human gastrointestinal tract and is used in the dairy industry due to the lactic acid produced through fermentation. This species has been found to:

  • have both antimicrobial and antioxidant activity
  • support normal function of the immune system
  • support maintenance of the normal intestinal microbiome
  • improve absorption of nutrients in ingested food

Streptococcus

Streptococcus bacteria are grouped into 4 categories, group A, B, C and G. This genus is most commonly associated with an infection called strep throat, caused by growth of group A bacteria in the throat however this does not mean that all streptococci are pathogenic. Other strains of this bacteria are naturally found in the mouth, intestinal tract, nasal passages and pharynx of humans, where they support our general health.

Streptococcus thermophilus

In Essential 9 and Advanced 17

S. thermophilus is widely used as a starter culture in the dairy industry and produces lactic acid following fermentation of sugars including lactose. This bacteria is present in the human gastrointestinal tract and provides benefits through:

  • supporting lactase production, which can alleviate digestive disturbance associated with lactose consumption
  • producing a variety of antibiotic-like substances to contribute to the defence against pathogenic bacteria
  • supporting maintenance of the gut microbiome throughout a course of antibiotics

Sources

Lactobacillus

Lactobacillus Overview

Beneficial properties of lactic acid bacteria naturally present in dairy production

Influence of the addition of Lactobacillus acidophilus La-05, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Bb-12 and inulin on the technological, physicochemical, microbiological and sensory features of creamy goat cheese

Lactobacillus plantarum overview

The Lactobacillus casei Group: History and Health Related Applications

Lactobacillus paracasei overview

Role of Lactobacillus reuteri in Human Health and Diseases

Comparative Analysis of Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus crispatus Isolated From Human Urogenital and Gastrointestinal Tracts

Lactobacillus gasseri overview

Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in Human Breast Milk: Influence of Antibiotherapy and Other Host and Clinical Factors

Health-Promoting Properties of Lactobacillus helveticus

Lactobacillus fermentum overview

Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. lactis and ssp. bulgaricus: a chronicle of evolution in action

Lactobacillus Delbrueckii Subsp. Bulgaricus overview

Beneficial effects of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum BB536 on human health: Modulation of gut microbiome as the principal action

Bifidobacterium

Bifidobacteria and Their Role as Members of the Human Gut Microbiota

Bifidobacterium animalis overview

The therapeutic efficacy of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12® in infant colic: A randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial

Lactococcus

Lactococcus overview

Streptococcus

Streptococcus thermophilus: To Survive, or Not to Survive the Gastrointestinal Tract, That Is the Question!

Streptococcus thermophilus overview