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Nitrogen sources: key process optimization factors for probiotics production

As evidenced by many scientific studies, nitrogen affects microorganism viability and vitality beyond the fermentation phase of production: it enhances survival during stabilization and throughout storage, as well as survival through the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract after ingestion.

As evidenced by many scientific studies, nitrogen affects microorganism viability and vitality beyond the fermentation phase of production: it enhances survival during stabilization and throughout storage, as well as survival through the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract after ingestion.

Nitrogen: the critical addition for any fermentation

All successful ferments have one thing in common: a high-quality nitrogen source. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for growth and metabolic activity: it is the building block for ribonucleic acids, amino acids and proteins, and other vitamins and minerals used by microorganisms. It also is required for energy production during anaerobic growth (i.e., fermentation).

Because it is an essential nutrient, nitrogen is a key media ingredient during fermentation. It promotes high cell numbers during the fermentation process, which equates to a greater ability for producers to meet minimum C.F.U. requirements for their products.

 As evidenced by many scientific studies, nitrogen also affects microorganism viability and vitality beyond the fermentation phase of production: it enhances survival during stabilization and throughout storage, as well as survival through the upper GI tract after ingestion.


Not all nitrogen sources are created equal

There are two classes of nitrogen sources producers can choose from to add to fermentation media: inorganic nitrogen sources, and organic nitrogen sources.

Inorganic sources include ammonium sulfate, nitrates, urea, and ammonia. Organic sources include soybean, peanut, and cottonseed meal, corn pulp and steep, meat extract, peptone, fish meal, yeast extract, and yeast peptone. Each source yields unique benefits for the fermentation process, and the intended market for the final product – along with quality and concentration standards and safety regulations – often dictates which nitrogen source is used.

Inorganic sources are attractive because they assimilate quickly and are often cheaper than organic sources. However, unlike more complex organic sources, they cannot be utilized by all types of microorganisms, limiting their applicability across different industries. Besides, inorganic sources usually have a limited contribution to meet the nutritional needs of highly demanding micro-organisms such as probiotic strains and starter cultures.

In addition to their broad applicability across different microorganisms, organic nitrogen sources can also be tailored to specific probiotic strains that utilize different amino acids or have different assimilation rates.

Biological nitrogen sources facilitate optimized fermentation processes yielding highly specific probiotic strains.

Yeast-based nutrients: the preferred nitrogen source

The growing global fermentation industry increasingly demands natural, consistent, environmentally-friendly and diverse nitrogen sources. In this bullish market, yeast-based nutrients have become the nitrogen source of choice because they have several advantages over other organic and inorganic nitrogen sources:

  • High-quality nutrient profile: Yeast-based nutrients contain protein (over 50% of the dry weight of yeast is protein) and complete amino acids. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, making them a rich and complex source of nutrients for all microorganisms.
  • Applicability: Because they can be optimized for use in different probiotics strains cultures, yeast-based nutrients are widely applicable across industries. Their safety (more below) also makes them appropriate for producing a range of industrial fermentation products, from probiotic supplements and food ingredients to industrial enzymes, and even more.
  • Ease of use: Yeast-based nutrients are available in liquid, powder, and paste forms, meaning that just about any probiotics producer can find an appropriate, easy-to-use yeast-based nitrogen source to add to their fermentation media.
  • Stability: Yeast-based nutrients production is stable, especially compared to plant-derived, animal-derived peptones and hydrolysates which are easily affected by climate patterns, soil conditions, and even cultivars used.
  • Natural: Yeast-based nutrients are 100% natural, making them an attractive choice for products that are ultimately purchased by conscious consumers that value natural ingredients.
  • Sustainability: The production process for yeast-based nutrients can be optimized to reduce ecological impact. Some of major players in the market have arranged their production cycle to be as sustainable as it possible. Furthermore, yeast-based nutrients are totally animal-free, what makes them even more environment friendly.
  • Safety: Yeast-based nutrients are completely safe and can be certified allergen-free and GMO-free. Yeast have been consumed by humans for millennia, and they pass U.S. and other governmental safety standards.


Yeast-based nutrients have become the nitrogen source of choice for producers in the fermentation industry. They are widely applicable and customizable, safe, natural, and lead to healthy, robust microorganisms.

Quality, stability, and versatility are becoming the most demanded characteristics for yeast-based nutrients in a booming market. A trustworthy provider of high-quality yeast-based nutrients could be key for your company’s success.

Procelys is one of the world’s largest suppliers of yeast-based nutrients for the probiotics industries, providing a high standard biological nitrogen source. Our decades of expertise enable us to produce high-value nutrients specifically designed to optimize microbial growth, biomass production, and overall activity for a range of microorganisms across the food culture and probiotics industries.

Our experts are available to help you select the yeast-based nutrients appropriate for your probiotic strains production so that you can produce high-quality, high cell viability, shelf life compliance & high level of cells’ metabolic activity microorganisms. 

→ Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your fermentation needs.