Lactobacilli with probiotic potential in the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster)

Senait Assefa, Kathleen Ahles, Simone Bigelow, J. Thomas Curtis, Gerwald A. Köhler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Recent research suggests integration of the intestinal microbiota in gut-brain communication which could lead to new approaches to treat neurological disorders. The highly social prairie voles are an excellent model system to study the effects of environmental factors on social behavior. For future studies on the role of probiotics in ameliorating disorders with social withdrawal symptoms, we report the characterization of intestinal Lactobacillus isolates with probiotic potential from voles. Methods and results: 30 bacterial strains were isolated from the vole intestine and found to be distinct but closely related to Lactobacillus johnsonii using 16S rRNA gene sequencing and Random Amplification of Polymorphic DNA fingerprinting. In vitro characterizations including acid and bile tolerance, antimicrobial effects, antibiotic susceptibility, and adherence to intestinal epithelial cells were performed to assess the probiotic potential of selected strains. Since previous studies revealed that mercury ingestion triggers social deficits in voles, mercury resistance of the probiotic candidates was evaluated which could be an important factor in preventing/treating these behavioral changes. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that lactobacilli with probiotic potential are present in the vole intestine. The Lactobacillus isolates identified in this study will provide a basis for the investigation of probiotic effects in the vole behavioral model system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
JournalGut Pathogens
Issue number1
StatePublished - 30 Dec 2015


  • Behavior
  • Intestine
  • Lactobacillus johnsonii
  • Mercury
  • Prairie vole
  • Probiotics
  • RAPD


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