The genus Lactobacillus has been growing rapidly for decades. In 1980, 36 Lactobacillus species had been identified, and by 2012, this figure had risen to 152. Based on exciting new science and the discovery of new species, the Lactobacillus genus now includes over 250 species. However, this means the genus has exceeded the diversity of a normal genus and no longer complies with heterogeneity rules.
On Wednesday the 15th of April, 2020 a new classification dividing the family of the Lactobacillaceae into Lactobacillus, Paralactobacillus, Pediococcus, and 23 novel genera was published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM)(1).
The reclassification provides increased discriminatory power to link and identify particular properties – such as health and safety benefits – to specific genera. More specificity ensures stronger scientific evidence and more clarity within the group.
Despite the new classification changes within the Lactobacillus genus, there are still several species that remain clustered in the new, smaller Lactobacillus genus, and therefore keep their Lactobacillus genus name (for example Lactobacillus acidophilus). However, many other species are affected by these name changes. Fortunately, all new genera begin with the letter “L”, so the abbreviated form of genus/species –such as L. casei – remains unchanged. To help, the authors – Zheng et al. – have created a website to quickly search by the new or old name of bacteria to see if it has changed: http://lactotax.embl.de/wuyts/lactotax/
- The organisms themselves remain unchanged.
- The effects of the organisms remain unchanged.
- The safety of the organisms remains unchanged.
How will this affect us?
The changes are valid and official now that the new nomenclature is published. New scientific articles and patents will start to use the new names, so it will be important to run literature searches with both the old and the new names.
The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) has created an infographic for consumers to help with this transition. You can download it in the resources below.
At Invivo, we have reviewed all of our probiotic labels and have updated them ready for the next batch run. We are also reviewing our EcologiX microbiome tests. Please be patient with us while we update our materials and use the website to cross-check new and old names if you are reading one of our older materials or a research paper.