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A genomic encyclopedia for Lactobacillus  

– comparative genomics of 213 strains expands biotechnology potential

Paul O Toole. Photograph by Tomas Tyner,UCC.

A genomic encyclopedia for Lactobacillus has been published in Nature Communications by a large international consortium led by Prof Paul O’Toole at the APC Microbiome Institute.

The encyclopedia contains genomic data for 175 Lactobacillus species and 26 genomes from other genera historically associated with- or grouped within- Lactobacillus.  These data underline the extraordinary level of genomic difference across species currently assigned to a single genus, and they provide the definitive resource for mining lactobacilli. Prof O’Toole says the sequencing initiative provides “genomic clarity for a genus bedevilled by phenotypic confusion and inconsistent phylogeny”.

Lactobacillus is a diverse group of over 200 species used widely in fermented foods, as probiotics and preservatives. Part of the normal microbiota of humans and other animals, they are approved for human consumption and are very important commercially for cheese production, as probiotics and for vaccine development. However, commercial exploitation has been complicated by the metabolic diversity of lactobacilli, making species identity a challenging task. This genomic encyclopedia provides an extensive resource for comparing, grouping and exploiting Lactobacillus species.

The paper is published in Nature Communications

Collaborators include Inner Mongolia Agriculture University, Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, New York University, University of Limerick, University of Verona, University of Helsinki, Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre, Teagasc Food Research Centre Cork, North Carolina State University and Wageningen University.

LINK to Press Release