Plant Glycan Metabolism by Bifidobacteria

Sandra M. Kelly*, Jose Munoz, Douwe Van Sinderen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Members of the genus Bifidobacterium, of which the majority have been isolated as gut commensals, are Gram-positive, non-motile, saccharolytic, non-sporulating, anaerobic bacteria. Many bifidobacterial strains are considered probiotic and therefore are thought to bestow health benefits upon their host. Bifidobacteria are highly abundant among the gut microbiota of healthy, full term, breast-fed infants, yet the relative average abundance of bifidobacteria tends to decrease as the human host ages. Because of the inverse correlation between bifidobacterial abundance/prevalence and health, there has been an increasing interest in maintaining, increasing or restoring bifidobacterial populations in the infant, adult and elderly gut. In order to colonize and persist in the gastrointestinal environment, bifidobacteria must be able to metabolise complex dietary and/or host-derived carbohydrates, and be resistant to various environmental challenges of the gut. This is not only important for the autochthonous bifidobacterial species colonising the gut, but also for allochthonous bifidobacteria provided as probiotic supplements in functional foods. For example, Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum is a taxon associated with the metabolism of plant-derived poly/oligosaccharides in the adult diet, being capable of metabolising hemicellulose and various pectin-associated glycans. Many of these plant glycans are believed to stimulate the metabolism and growth of specific bifidobacterial species and are for this reason classified as prebiotics. In this review, bifidobacterial carbohydrate metabolism, with a focus on plant poly-/oligosaccharide degradation and uptake, as well as its associated regulation, will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number609418
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021

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