Prospecting for Probiotics

Most natural product drugs are secondary metabolites isolated from plants, fungi, and microorganisms. Penicillin is an example of a natural product produced by mold.  Although chemists have synthesized potential drugs, natural product drugs remain of interest. Initially microbes were isolated from soils and screened for useful metabolites.  As the quest continues for new drugs and new applications scientists have turned to the marine environment.  The ocean provides a plethora of diverse microbes able to grow in the warm water of the tropics or the cold waters of the arctic.

Keeton Industries as a commercial producer of probiotics has been interested in the molecules secreted by the bacteria in their probiotic products.   Instead of purifying the active ingredient, our products are living organisms that when applied in the environment start to grow, replicate and produce beneficial molecules as by products.  In June 2016, Keeton Industries launched their research and development program with a goal to find new microbes that were more reactive against emerging strains of aquaculture related pathogens. We at Keeton decided the best place to look for beneficial microbes is in the environment where the pathogens thrive. By mining for microbes where they will be used you will have a collection of isolates that will grow well where needed.  To this end, water samples were collected from the ocean, estuaries, streams and lakes around the world, including the United States, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Ecuador, Brazil, the Caribbean, Canada, and Portugal. The microbes have been collected from polar, temperate, tropical, and Mediterranean climates. Therefore we have microbes that can grow anywhere from 15°C to 35°C.  We have isolates that grow in fresh water and we have microbes that were isolated from ocean water that can grow in 80,000 ppm salt.


Our collection contains microbes harvested from oysters, shrimp and trout.  Therefore, not only do we have isolates from the environment but we have microbes that are from the natural flora of fish and shellfish.  We have collected over 1000 isolates and have identified 15 different vibrio pathogens including Vibrio parahaemolyticus, V. vulnificus, and V. tubiashii.  We have mined isolates that produce inhibitory metabolites against the 15 isolates. We have mined 4 trout pathogens from our collection and our in the process of testing them against are beneficial microbes.  So far we have identified 16 microbes with activity against Flavobacterium psychrophilum with a number of them growing well at 15°C.

The beneficial microbes that we have available that grow at different temperatures, in different salinity conditions and in different hosts affords us the opportunity to develop custom products that meet the specific needs of our clients and aquaculture.