P. 13-18 /

Probiotic lactic acid bacteria vs. bacilli: pros and cons

*Corresponding author
1. Active Nutrition, DuPont Nutrition & Health, Sokeritehtaantie 20, 02460 Kantvik, Finland
2. Animal and Environmental Applications, DuPont Nutrition & Health, W227 N752 Westmound Drive, Waukesha, WI 53186, USA


Both lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bacilli are commercialised as probiotics; LAB are mainly utilised as live and active or dormant cells, while bacilli are utilised as spores. Belonging to very different genera, they have different technological properties. LAB have a longer history of use as probiotics and therefore have a broader base as far as health efficacy documentation is concerned. The question therefore sometimes arises; strains from which of these two groups make better probiotics? Considering the fact that probiotics, by definition, have to be viable in sufficient numbers and have to have documented health benefits, this is not a relevant question. Any microbial strain has to fulfil these criteria in order to qualify as a probiotic. The current paper reviews and compares the available data for both groups of organisms.


There is no legal description of probiotics. However, the most commonly accepted definition is from a FAO/WHO working group: “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. This implies that probiotics must be alive in sufficient number at the time of use and must have documented health benefits.
The most commonly used probiotics for human use are strains that belong to the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, although the latter are genetically distinct from the former, for convenience they will be grouped here as lactic acid bacteria (LAB). An emerging group of probiotics are strains that belong to the genus Bacillus. An often arising question is which one makes a ‘better’ probiotic as both groups have pros and cons. The present review compares the characteristics for both probiotic groups.
The production of probiotics follows a general process consisting of several steps, starting with fermentation. Ingredient choice is a crucial step in the fermentation process; final product form and allergen potential are factors that must be considered. Growth conditio ...