In human health, the central and integrated role of the human gut microbiota has recently come into focus. As a result, there is a strong interest in seeking products which confer a health benefit on the host, such as probiotics (live microorganisms), prebiotics (non-living substrate selectively used by host microorganisms, conferring a health benefit) and live biotherapeutic products (LBPs, live microorganisms used to prevent or treat a disease).
Probiotics, prebiotics and LBPs are primarily developed for their benefits to gastrointestinal health, although their relevance for other sites is also being explored (e.g. oral cavity, vaginal tract and skin). One important factor to consider during probiotic/LBP development is the presence of multiple bacterial strains within a species. Critical characteristics and therapeutic effects can vary between strains, highlighting the importance of strain-specificity when considering product efficacy and safety.