From Streptococcus lactis to Lactococcus lactis: A qualitative and quantitative analysis of the scope of research undertaken around a microbial concept
The lactic acid bacterium Lactococcus lactis, formerly named Streptococcus lactis, has been known and used for many years, even before its re-affiliation in 1985. The number of published papers featuring one of the two names, either in the title or in the key words, currently stands at more than 2,900. From 1945 to 2014, a bibliometric analysis of the evolution of this bacterium allowed us to identify three phases we have called 1, the “exploratory period” (or the “US period” if we refer to the origin of the labs most frequently involved in the publications), 2, the “explanatory period” (dominated by French and Dutch labs) and 3, the “enlargement period” (or the “Asian period”). We noticed in particular that the evolution of research on this bacterium did not depend on its affiliation but rather on the accessibility to powerful tools and information. Trends and competition between labs were certainly driving forces in the knowledge acquired on Lactococcus lactis. We can expect to see more research on this bacterial concept, expanding to new fields, with the arrival of new labs in countries such as China and India. Without the investment of these new actors, would the concept stagnate and regress in the future?