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Probiotics for Livestock – Reducing Antibiotic Reliance

In the wake of the Obama administration’s plan to decrease antibiotic usage in livestock, farmers are now trying to find alternatives that have fewer ecological and human health impacts. In an effort to reduce reliance on antibiotics, researchers at Iowa State University are testing if Lactobacillus species found in yogurt might have a similar health effect on livestock as it reportedly does in humans. NPR reports on the story in this article.

Thankfully, the article does provide the caveat that this won’t be a perfect replacement for antibiotics. After all, the use of probiotics in humans is not rigorously tested and understood, much less using the same strain in other animals (what if there is a probiotic strain that works for cattle, but isn’t the same as the one that works for pigs or humans?). The article’s author also did a good job of explaining why antibiotic use in livestock is a problem. Hopefully this experiment does contribute some useful information to help us combat antibiotic resistance and reliance.

via Flickr under the public domain license
via Flickr under the public domain license

Alex Alexiev

Alex Alexiev is a recent UC Davis graduate with a BS in microbiology working in Jonathan Eisen’s lab on aquariums as part of the microbiology of the built environment.

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