Probiotics are available in various forms of functional foods and dietary supplements for human use. The most commonly sold carriers of probiotic bacteria are Dairy products, beverages, health drinks etc. Furthermore, capsules and tablets containing lyophilized or spray dried probiotic bacteria are available in health food stores.

The concept of probiotics rose about more than one hundred years ago. Döderlein and, later Metchnikoff proposed that bacteria producing lactic acid from sugars should have some beneficial effects on the hosts. Although known since a long time, only in the last two decades probiotics have started to receive major attention from researchers, and several studies have been carried out on the effects of probiotics microorganisms, in different combinations for the purposes of preventing or treating diseases. They are commonly considered as viable microorganisms that beneficially affect the host health when ingested. The microorganisms most frequently used as probiotic agents are majorly from the genus Bacillus, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria and yeasts. Success of probiotics has led to development and marketing of a broad range of products based on probiotics.

Probiotics which are originally defined as microorganisms promoting the growth of other microorganisms, the definition of probiotics has been revised and changed several times based on their effects on individuals. Probiotics are considered as those viable microorganisms that when administered to man and animal, beneficially affects the host by improving the properties of the indigenous microflora. More recently probiotics have been defined as mono- or mixed cultures of “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host” (FAO/WHO, 2002).

There are two basic forms of probiotic microorganisms used in foods: the vegetative form and the spore form. The vegetative form is more susceptible to low pH conditions in the stomach, bile salts, pancreatic juice, high temperatures, moisture, acidity, shelf life of food, and negative environmental conditions during the manufacture of food than the spore form. Fermentation conditions, freezing, thawing, drying, cell protection additives, rehydration of dried probiotics, and microencapsulation applications are factors that affect the survival of probiotic microorganisms during probiotic food production. The survival and stability of spore forming bacteria is considerably high compared to vegetative forms due to tough spore coat. Probiotic spores thus offer flexibility for incorporation in a variety of formulations, process conditions such as heating and handling without a need for cold chain. Bacillus-containing foods and feeds are used as food supplements for humans, growth enhancers for animals, and growth regulators or protectors against diseases in aquaculture. It is reported that regular consumption of probiotic microorganism-containing products strengthens the immune system, exhibits an anti-allergy effect, reduces cancer risk, lowers cholesterol, prevents digestive problems, and reduces gastrointestinal system infections. The lactic acid bacteria have received major considerations in regard to food and nutrition.

Lactobacillus sporogenes (L. sporogenes) vs B. coagulans: What name to prefer?

Bacillus coagulans is a lactic acid–forming bacterial species first isolated and described in 1915 by B.W. Hammer at the Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station as a cause of an outbreak of coagulation in evaporated milk packed by an Iowa condensary. In 1932, Horowitz and Wlassowa named it as Lactobacillus sporogenes. Separately isolated in 1935 and described as Lactobacillus sporogenes in the fifth edition of Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology. By the Seventh Edition of Bergey’s Manual in 1957, the bacterium was reclassified in the Bacillus genus and the correct nomenclature is Bacillus coagulans (B. coagulans). The bacterium may still occasionally be erroneously referred to as L. sporogenes.

By definition, lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium) do not form spores. Although B. coagulans does produce L+ lactic acid, Bacillus species do not belong to the lactic acid bacteria. But B. coagulans exhibits characteristics typical of both genera Lactobacillus and Bacillus, its taxonomic position between the families Lactobacillaceae and Bacillaceae was often debated. Determination of the taxonomy of bacterial species is a key point, since it is well known that different species belonging to the same genus may have different beneficial properties. From this point of view, Lactobacillus sporogenes, or, as it should be correctly classified, Bacillus coagulans, represents the misidentified probiotic and its listing among probiotics has often been matter of debate. However, in the seventh edition of Bergey’s, it was finally transferred to the genus Bacillus. Therefore, using the name Lactobacillus sporogenes is scientifically incorrect.

It was observed that several publications and in many product descriptions provided by manufacturers of products with this bacterium, it is stated that B. coagulans is not a proper Bacillus and has some characteristics in common with the genus Lactobacillus. Considering the characteristics of the species it can be stated that it indeed bears characteristics of both genera. There are as many arguments to place the species in Lactobacillus as in Bacillus. There is, however, no conclusive argument to place the strain under Lactobacillus, whereas the spore-forming capacity definitely places the strain within the genus Bacillus. By definition, the genus Lactobacillus does not form any spores, which makes it impossible to name the strain Lactobacillus. As there are many bacteria that make lactic acid, the fact that it produces lactic acid is not conclusive to place the strain in the genus Lactobacillus. At the same time B. coagulans differs from the other bacteria of the genus Bacillus for position of terminal endospore in the cellular body while in other bacilli they are located centrally or subterminally, lack of cytochrome-c oxidase and for the incapability to reduce nitrate to nitrite. The designation ‘spore forming Lactobacillus’ is definitely incorrect, as by definition Lactobacillus species do not form spores and, as stated above, this may be confusing.
Concluding, the name Lactobacillus sporogenes has no scientific or legal status and thus does not ‘exist’ scientifically and therefore should not be used on product labels. The official name is Bacillus coagulans.

Lactobacillus vs Bacillus:

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB; for example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) and some Saccharomyces species are the microorganisms most commonly used in probiotic food production. A large number of scientific reports have focused on these probiotic species, investigating various aspects such as industrial applications, therapeutic properties and biosafety. Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are sensitive to physiological conditions such as pH of the stomach and bile salts.

The bioavailability of these bacteria is also affected by various conditions of production, storage and transportation. These microorganisms cannot survive heat treatment. Heat treatment is not applicable for most probiotic foods that contain commercial vegetative probiotic microorganisms due to their sensitivity to heat. Various factors during food production like food additives, oxygen content, moisture content/water activity, storage temperature, pH and titration acidity, and packaging conditions affect survival of probiotic microorganisms during storage. As stated earlier, gastrointestinal system conditions like gastric acid and bile could cause significant loss of viable probiotic cells. Thus these restriction could be overcome by the usage of spore-forming probiotic microorganisms.

Use of spore-forming bacillus bacteria includes advantages compared to that use of lactobacilli does because products containing these bacteria can be preserved in dry forms at room temperature without any negative effects on the survival of spores. Another advantage of using spores is linked to their ability to tolerate low pH and successfully passing the GIT. Bacterial spores include a greater resistance to thermal lethal effects, drying, freezing, toxic chemicals and radiation compared to that vegetative cells do. In recent years, a number of Bacillus species. have been reported as novel probiotics.

Spore-forming bacilli have been used for many years for food production and preservation. The importance of bacilli bacteria in food chains is associated to their innate production of an extensive number of enzymes, vitamins, antimicrobials and protein compounds as well as organic pigments such as carotenoids. Nowadays, Bacillus species is becoming popular in human health and functional food research primarily due to their enhanced tolerance and survivability under the antagonistic environment of GIT. Furthermore, stability of Bacillus microflora during food processing and storage makes them ideally functional candidates for health boosting formulations.

Bacillus coagulans: General facts

B. coagulans is a gram-positive, facultative anaerobic, nonpathogenic, spore-forming, lactic acid-producing bacteria. It is resistant to heat. The optimum growth temperature for B. coagulans is 35 to 50oC and the optimum growth pH is 5.5 to 6.5. It has the characteristics of microorganisms used as probiotics. Although B. coagulans produces acid, it does not produce gas from maltose, raffinose, mannitol, and sucrose fermentation. In addition to lactic acid production, some strains also produce thermostable α-amylase. For this reason, B. coagulans is important from an industrial point of view. B. coagulans has been reported as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Union Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and is on the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) and Qualified Presumption of Safety (QPS) list

B. coagulans SNZ 1969: Strain information

Bacillus coagulans is a proven probiotic in supporting digestive and immune health and well accepted in food & beverages as a probiotic supplement. B. coagulans designated as strain SNZ 1969 is marketed in India under the brand name “SPORLAC” and has been used as probiotics for about 50 years. Thus, it can be said that all studies conducted in India prior to 1990 likely used our strain (in cases where it is not mentioned) and all studies citing SPORLAC should be considered studies on SNZ 1969 only.
Sporlac has an exceptional safety record with more than five decades in the Indian Pharmaceutical Market. The product has been used extensively in the pediatrics segment and has an unmatched safety record with no significant adverse effect reported or recorded. The strain SNZ 1969 contained in Sporlac, has FDA GRAS status from the United States FDA and Heath Canada approval from NNHPD for its use as an ingredient.

Sanzyme Biologics has been manufacturing Bacillus coagulans for more than 5 decades and a pioneer in the Domestic and International Markets. The strain has received certification following certifications and approvals,

Lactobacillus Sporogenes

B. coagulans SNZ 1969: Deposit in culture collection of microorganisms:

The strain of Bacillus coagulans SNZ 1969 has been deposited in three recognized culture banks:
• At the Microbial Type Culture Collection and Gene Bank of India (MTCC) registered under the code MTCC 5724 recognized as an International Depositary Authority under the Budapest treaty.
• In the Belgium Microorganism Collection (BCCM), under the code BCCM LMG S-27484, also recognized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as an International Depositary Authority (IDA).
• As well as in the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) under code 3560.

B. coagulans SNZ 1969: Historical perspective

The B. coagulans strain was isolated from green malt in 1949 by a Japanese physician, Dr. Nakayama. The strain was identified in 1951 by Nakayama and colleagues as Bacillus coagulans Hammer (Nakayama et al., 1951).

This strain was launched as B. coagulans SANK 70258 spores preparation by Sankyo Co., Ltd. (currently known as Daiichi Sankyo Co. Ltd.) in Japan under the trade name LACBON in 1964.
In 1973, the Sankyo Corporation offered the formulation and fermentation technology of the B. coagulans strain to Sanzyme Ltd; the strain was then designated strain SNZ I969 and was used to manufacture spores preparation marketed under the trade name Sporlac® in India (Sanzyme, Ltd, 2015). B. coagulans SANK 70258 is therefore the mother strain of SNZ 1969, a strain used in a spores preparation and recently determined to be GRAS for use in select foods (Sanzyme, Ltd, 2015, GRN 597). Since then, B. coagulans designated as strain SNZ 1969 is marketed in India under the brand name “SPORLAC” and has been used as probiotics for about 50 years.

About Sanzyme Biologics:

Sanzyme Biologics was incorporated in 1969 as Uni-Sankyo, the first ever Indo Japanese joint venture in the healthcare industry. This was the first generation biotechnology company in India which brought the concept of making enzyme and probiotics through fermentation technology. Over the last five decades Sanzyme Biologics established its strength in probiotics by developing special probiotic strains with in-house expertise, pioneered their applications beyond human health into aqua, veterinary, poultry and bioremediation, which are sold around the world.
Today, Sanzyme Biologics works with reputed companies in over 3 countries to meet ingredient requirements in biotech space in the pharmaceutical, food, supplement and animal health segment