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Lactobacillus faces upcoming nomenclature changes

Growing pains from the probiotic formerly known as Lactobacillus.jpg
Nomenclature changes for the rapidly expanding Lactobacillus genus are likely to cause short- and long-term confusion for an array of probiotics stakeholders.

New genetic sequencing technologies have led to a huge rise in the number of probiotic species classified under the Lactobacillus genus. With well over 200 species, it has grown into one of the biggest genera in the bacterial taxonomy. It is extremely diverse and expanding every year. As the genus has exceeded the acceptable “normal diversity,” it will be split into many new genera—all with new names. This means that many probiotic species with substantiated clinical importance may soon no longer be called “Lactobacillus.”  Hence, a substantial communication challenge looms ahead to reduce the inevitable confusion regarding the old and new nomenclature.

A subdivision of these probiotics into different genera will represent an opportunity to improve discrimination of similar groups, as well as the understanding of the bacteria metabolism, ecology and properties. It will also be an occasion for deepening communication and education about the new groups’ characteristics and specificities.

Even so, this change is likey to cause great confusion in the short term as different stakeholders adopt the new nomeclature at different times. The confusion could also be long lasting, as clinical studies, patents, trademarks, commercial agreements, ingredient and product approvals, official lists, and more may use the old names, while product labels and more may use the new names.

Potential areas that this change will affect include companies—around their research and publications, manufacturing and quality documentation, master regulatory dossiers, product authorizations and certificates, marketing materials including websites and proucts lists, safety dossiers, ingredients lists and labeling, patent monitoring, and more.

The full version of this article will appear in the Probiotics digital magazine, which publishes on Natural Products INSIDER on October 9, 2019.

Ivan Wasserman is the managing partner of law firm Amin Talati Wasserman LLP; Nina Vinot is area sales manager for Probiotical.

Learn more about upcoming nomenclature changes and their anticipated impact on various stakeholders from Ivan Wasserman and Nina Vinot during the “Extending Your Reach in the Probiotics Space” session on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8:30 a.m., at SupplySide West in Las Vegas. This session is underwritten by Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes and Sabinsa.

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