Horizon scanning the application of probiotics for wildlife

Neus Garcias-Bonet, Anna Roik, Braden Tierney, Francisca C. García, Helena D.M. Villela, Ashley M. Dungan, Kate M. Quigley, Michael Sweet, Gabriele Berg, Lone Gram, David G. Bourne, Blake Ushijima, Maggie Sogin, Lone Hoj, Gustavo Duarte, Heribert Hirt, Kornelia Smalla, Alexandre S. Rosado, Susana Carvalho, Rebecca Vega ThurberMaren Ziegler, Christopher E. Mason, Madeleine J.H. van Oppen, Christian R. Voolstra, Raquel S. Peixoto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The provision of probiotics benefits the health of a wide range of organisms, from humans to animals and plants. Probiotics can enhance stress resilience of endangered organisms, many of which are critically threatened by anthropogenic impacts. The use of so-called ‘probiotics for wildlife’ is a nascent application, and the field needs to reflect on standards for its development, testing, validation, risk assessment, and deployment. Here, we identify the main challenges of this emerging intervention and provide a roadmap to validate the effectiveness of wildlife probiotics. We cover the essential use of inert negative controls in trials and the investigation of the probiotic mechanisms of action. We also suggest alternative microbial therapies that could be tested in parallel with the probiotic application. Our recommendations align approaches used for humans, aquaculture, and plants to the emerging concept and use of probiotics for wildlife.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-269
Number of pages18
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number3
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
R.S.P. acknowledges funding from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (grants FCC/1/1973-51-01 , URF/1/4723-01-01 , BAS/1/1095-01-01 ). R.S.P., N.G-B., H.D.M.V., and F.C.G. acknowledge King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Grant REI/1/4984-01-01. M.J.H.v.O. acknowledges Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship FL180100036 . A.M.D. acknowledges Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP210100630 . A.R. is funded by the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg, Niedersachsen, Germany. HIFMB is a collaboration between the Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Helmholtz-Center for Polar and Marine Research, and the Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg, initially funded by the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony and the Volkswagen Foundation through the ‘Niedersächsisches Vorab’ grant program (grant number ZN3285 ). A.S.R. thanks KAUST Baseline Grant (to A.S.R.) (BAS/1/1096-01-01). L.G. acknowledges funding from the Danish National Research Foundation ( DRFN137 ) and the Novo Nordisk Foundation ( NNF20OC0064249 ). C.E.M. and B.T. would also like to thank the WorldQuant Foundation , NASA ( 80NSSC22K0254 ), and the National Institutes of Health ( R01AI151059 , U01DA053941 ). C.R.V. acknowledges funding from the University of Konstanz AFF funding, Project ‘Microbiology of host resilience (MORE)’, grant number 15902919 FP 029/19 , and the German Research Foundation (DFG) (grant 458901010 ). C.R.V. and R.S.P. acknowledge funding from KAUST ( OSR-2021-NTGC-4984 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • amphibians
  • bats
  • bees
  • biodiversity decline
  • conservation
  • coral
  • emergent interventions
  • microbial therapies
  • negative control
  • placebo
  • probiotics
  • rehabilitation
  • restoration
  • wildlife

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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