Marcelo Lang is global mar- keting director at Chr. Hansen: “Understanding the modes of action of probiotic bacteria will enable you to make the most informed product choices for the animals in your care.”

learn about the myriad interactions of probiotic bacteria with the intestinal lining of their host. These interactions actively support the major barrier and immune functions of the intestinal tract.

Can you say more about these different modes of action? When interacting with feedstuffs, some probiotics can convert sugars to organic acids that improve the intestinal environment and that serve as precursors to absorbable volatile fatty acids. Some probiotics produce an array of enzymes that drive the di- gestion of relatively hard-to-digest fibers and that improve the solubility of proteins. When interacting with other microbes, probiotics are able to produce and secrete potent antimicrobial peptides that kill poten- tially pathogenic organisms, without causing any harm to other probiotic or commensal organisms. Probiotic bacteria can competitively exclude the binding of po- tentially pathogenic organisms to intestinal microvilli, the site of nutrient absorption. Probiotic bacteria support the proper development of absorptive capacity in young, growing animals. They also actively support the barrier functions of the intestine tract, specifically the proper function of apical tight junctions. In addition, probiotic bacteria interact with specialized cells of an animal’s immune system to improve their capacity to response to challenges.

What are the health benefits for animals when using probiotics? Through their effects on feedstuffs, probiotics improve the diges- tion and availability of essential nutrients; these are nutrients that animals can use to maintain themselves, defend themselves, grow, and produce meat, milk, or eggs. Direct antagonism of po- tentially pathogenic organisms helps keep your animals healthy and thriving. Gaining an understanding of the trillions of organisms that make up the intestinal microbiome is an essential element in making the most informed product choices for your animals. Finally, through their direct effects on the host, probiotics rein- force the gut barrier functions, which stop pathogenic organisms from invading animal tissues and causing disease.

How do you know which probiotics to use in a certain situation? Not all bacteria are equal in their ability to interact positively with feedstuffs, with other microbes and with the host: strain matters! Choosing the right probiotic depends on the specific situation or challenge facing each particular food animal production system. Understanding the modes of action of probiotic bacteria will enable you to make the most informed product choices for the animals in your care.

▶ ALL ABOUT FEED | Volume 29, No. 5/6, 2021 25

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