We’ve talked here in the past about the idea of probiotics for buildings (which is many years in the future, if ever) and pretty much everyone has heard about probiotics for human health (currently an issue of much debate).
One of the problems with both buildings and people is the difficulty of testing a hypothesis such as “does adding this particular bacteria affect some measurable outcome?”
An interesting study from NOAA, released this January, focuses on oyster aquaculture where the use of probiotics is both tractable to study, and has potentially important commercial applications.
While research is still in the early stages, the researchers found that adding a particular bacteria (isolated from adult oysters) to embryos significantly increase their survival rates, presumably through displacement of disease-causing bacteria. Most importantly, this kind of treatment could reduce the need for antibiotics, the use of which is a major issue with most shellfish agriculture.