Host-specific probiotics have been used to control enteric pathogens, including foodborne pathogens, in food animal production. However, evaluation of the efficacy of these probiotics requires costly in vivo assays in the target animal. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been used for prescreening of antimicrobial agents and for studies of host-pathogen interactions. In the present study, 17 Lactobacillus isolates from chicken and pig intestines were tested with C. elegans, and the ability of these isolates to prevent death from Salmonella infection was variable. Two Lactobacillus isolates (S64, which gave full protection, and CL11, which gave no protection) were further studied. Both isolates exhibited a similar colonization profile in the C. elegans intestine. Although different culture fractions of CL11 were not protective, both live and heat-killed S64 cells provided full or partial protection of C. elegans from death caused by Salmonella infection. In contrast, different culture fractions from both isolates had similar effects on the colonization of the nematode intestine by Salmonella Typhimurium DT104. Our preliminary results from a pig performance trial revealed a correlation between the degree of protection in the C. elegans survival assay and the performance of 35-day-old weaned piglets that were treated with the same Lactobacillus isolates, suggesting that C. elegans can be used as a laboratory animal model for preselecting probiotics for control of Salmonella infections.

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Author notes

Present address: Laboratory Service Division, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 5C9.