Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 217–226 | Cite as

The Genus Lactobacillus: A Taxonomic Update

  • Elisa Salvetti
  • Sandra Torriani
  • Giovanna E. FelisEmail author


Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) are a functional group of microorganisms comprising Gram-positive, catalase negative bacteria that produce lactic acid as the major metabolic end-product of carbohydrate fermentation. Among LAB, Lactobacillus is the genus including a high number of GRAS species (Generally Recognized As Safe) and many strains are among the most important bacteria in food microbiology and human nutrition, due to their contribution to fermented food production or their use as probiotics. From a taxonomic point of view, the genus Lactobacillus includes at present (October 2012), 152 validly described species, and it belongs to the family Lactobacillaceae together with genus Pediococcus, with whom it is phylogenetically intermixed. The updated phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rRNA gene sequence revealed that the family is divided into 15 groups of three or more species, 4 couples and 10 single lines of descents. In addition, other taxonomically relevant information for Lactobacillus species was collected. This study aims at updating the taxonomy of the genus Lactobacillus, presenting the phylogenetic structure of the Lactobacillaceae and discussing the clusters as possible nuclei of genera to be described in the future. It is expected that scientists and producers in the field of probiotics could benefit from information reported here about the correct identification procedures and nomenclature of beneficial strains of lactobacilli.


Lactobacillus Taxonomy 16S rRNA Phylogeny 



Authors are grateful to Yakult Europe BV that supported ES and Prof. Franco Dellaglio for his contribution and suggestions. Authors would like to thank also the anonymous reviewer, whose comments and suggestions improved the quality of the present paper.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have not competing interest.

Supplementary material

12602_2012_9117_MOESM1_ESM.docx (97 kb)
Table 2S Relevant taxonomic data of Lactobacillus species according to their group compositions (Fig. 1): L. delbrueckii- group (Table 2.1S), L. salivarius-group (Table 2.2S), L. reuteri-group (Table 2.3S), L. buchneri-group (Table 2.4S), L. alimentarius-group (Table 2.5S), L. brevis-group (Table 2.6S), L. collinoides-group (Table 2.7S), L. fructivorans-group (Table 2.8S), L. plantarum-group (Table 2.9S), L. sakei-group (Table 2.10S), L. casei-group (Table 2.11S), L. coryniformis-group (Table 2.12S), L. manihotivorans-group (Table 2.13S), L. perolens-group (Table 2.14S), L. vaccinostercus-group (Table 2.15S), couples (Table 2.16S) and single lines of descent (Table 2.17S). Taxonomic data include full species name, type of glucose fermentation (A, B, C), GC content, aerobic/anaerobic patterns, cell wall composition, lactic acid isomer produced, motility, production of ammonia and acetoin, NaCl tolerance, temperature and pH growth range, and source of isolation. (DOCX 97 kb)
12602_2012_9117_MOESM2_ESM.docx (716 kb)
Fig. 3S The phylogenetic structure of Lactobacillus groups based on 16S rRNA sequence analysis and their species composition: L. delbrueckii-group (3.1S), L. salivarius-group (3.2S), L. reuteri-group (3.3S), L. buchneri-group (3.4S), L. alimentarius-group (3.5S), L. brevis-group (3.6S), L. collinoides-group (3.7S), L. fructivorans-group (3.8S), L. plantarum-group (3.9S), L. sakei-group (3.10S), L. casei-group (3.11S), L. coryniformis-group (3.12S), L. manihotivorans-group (3.13S), L. perolens-group (3.14S), L. vaccinostercus-group (3.15S). Each phylogenetic tree was inferred using the same parameters of tree in Fig. 1. For each species, accession numbers is indicated (DOCX 716 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisa Salvetti
    • 1
  • Sandra Torriani
    • 1
  • Giovanna E. Felis
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Food Microbiology Laboratory, Department of BiotechnologyUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly

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