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Probiotics beyond the farm: Benefits, costs, and considerations of using antibiotic alternatives in livestock

October 12, 2022

The increasing global expansion of antimicrobial resistant infections warrants the development of effective antibiotic alternative therapies, particularly for use in livestock production, an agricultural sector that is perceived to disproportionately contribute to the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis by consuming nearly two-thirds of the global antibiotic supply. Probiotics and probiotic derived compounds are promising alternative therapies, and their successful use in disease prevention, treatment, and animal performance commands attention. However, insufficient or outdated probiotic screening techniques may unintentionally contribute to this crisis, and few longitudinal studies have been conducted to determine what role probiotics play in AMR dissemination in animal hosts and the surrounding environment. In this review, we briefly summarize the current literature regarding the efficacy, feasibility, and limitations of probiotics, including an evaluation of their impact on the animal microbiome and resistome and their potential to influence AMR in the environment. Probiotic application for livestock is often touted as an ideal alternative therapy that might reduce the need for antibiotic use in agriculture and the negative downstream impacts. However, as detailed in this review, limited research has been conducted linking probiotic usage with reductions in AMR in agricultural or natural environments. Additionally, we discuss the methods, including limitations, of current probiotic screening techniques across the globe, highlighting approaches aimed at reducing antibiotic usage and ensuring safe and effective probiotic mediated health outcomes. Based on this information, we propose economic and logistical considerations for bringing probiotic therapies to market including regulatory roadblocks, future innovations, and the significant gaps in knowledge requiring additional research to ensure probiotics are suitable long-term options for livestock producers as an antibiotic alternative therapy.

Publication Year 2022
Title Probiotics beyond the farm: Benefits, costs, and considerations of using antibiotic alternatives in livestock
DOI 10.3389/frabi.2022.1003912
Authors Kyle R. Leistikow, Rachelle Elaine Beattie, Krassimira R. Hristova
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Antibiotics
Index ID 70237723
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center