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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Jan;69(1):220-6.

Culture-independent analysis of probiotic products by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis.

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Laboratory of Microbiology, Ghent University, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


In order to obtain functional and safe probiotic products for human consumption, fast and reliable quality control of these products is crucial. Currently, analysis of most probiotics is still based on culture-dependent methods involving the use of specific isolation media and identification of a limited number of isolates, which makes this approach relatively insensitive, laborious, and time-consuming. In this study, a collection of 10 probiotic products, including four dairy products, one fruit drink, and five freeze-dried products, were subjected to microbial analysis by using a culture-independent approach, and the results were compared with the results of a conventional culture-dependent analysis. The culture-independent approach involved extraction of total bacterial DNA directly from the product, PCR amplification of the V3 region of the 16S ribosomal DNA, and separation of the amplicons on a denaturing gradient gel. Digital capturing and processing of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) band patterns allowed direct identification of the amplicons at the species level. This whole culture-independent approach can be performed in less than 30 h. Compared with culture-dependent analysis, the DGGE approach was found to have a much higher sensitivity for detection of microbial strains in probiotic products in a fast, reliable, and reproducible manner. Unfortunately, as reported in previous studies in which the culture-dependent approach was used, a rather high percentage of probiotic products suffered from incorrect labeling and yielded low bacterial counts, which may decrease their probiotic potential.

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