Probiotic potential from fungi used in food production

Monday, 30 October, 2023

Probiotic potential from fungi used in food production

The food industry has used many fungus strains for their capacities to ferment, produce flavours or produce heterologous molecules. According to a new study, two fungi used to produce food products have potential probiotic effects on gut inflammation. The study, published in mSystems, demonstrates this new way to develop probiotics.

Lead author Mathias L Richard, PhD, Research Director at INRAE in the Micalis Institute, France, said, “There is much to learn by studying the role of the fungal strains in the microbiota and host health and also that species simply used in food processes can be the source of new probiotics.”

To date, there is little known about the diversity of foodborne yeasts and their potential effect on gut microbiota and gut health. Yeasts are microscopic fungi consisting of solitary cells that reproduce by budding. Some have been used for hundreds of years for wine and bread production, while others are used for cheese crust production or ripening.

The researchers conducted the study because they’re working to further their knowledge of the effect of the fungal microbiota on human health. In this study, the idea was to target the fungi that food companies use to produce food products. The research focuses on the role of fungi in gut health and on the development of inflammatory bowel diseases.

The researchers selected yeasts that were used in food production and represented a range of different yeast species, then tested them either in simple interaction tests with cultured human cells or in a specific animal model mimicking ulcerative colitis.

They found that in the collection of strains used for food production, some strains have a beneficial effect on the gut and the host in inflammatory context. Two strains of yeasts that had potential beneficial effects on inflammatory settings in a mouse model of ulcerative colitis were identified: Cyberlindnera jadinii and Kluyveromyces lactis. In an attempt to decipher the mechanism behind these effects, several additional experiments were performed. In the case of C. jadinii, the protection seemed to be driven by the modification of the microbiota after the administration of C. jadinii to the mice, which in turn modified the sensitivity to gut inflammation through a still unknown mechanism.

According to Richard, these strains have never been specifically described with such beneficial effects, so it is a promising discovery even if it needs to be studied further.

C. jadinii and K. lactis strains have potential as probiotic yeast strains to fight against inflammation in the gut, but further studies are needed to understand the mechanisms by which these strains act on gut health.

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