Substrate Use Prioritization by a Coculture of Five Species of Gut Bacteria Fed Mixtures of Arabinoxylan, Xyloglucan, β-Glucan, and Pectin

Yafei Liu, Anne-Louise Heath, Barbara Galland, Nancy Rehrer, Lynley Drummond, Xi-Yang Wu, Tracey J. Bell, Blair Lawley, Ian M. Sims, Gerald W. Tannock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dietary fiber provides growth substrates for bacterial species that belong to the colonic microbiota of humans. The microbiota degrades and ferments substrates, producing characteristic short-chain fatty acid profiles. Dietary fiber contains plant cell wall-associated polysaccharides (hemicelluloses and pectins) that are chemically diverse in composition and structure. Thus, depending on plant sources, dietary fiber daily presents the microbiota with mixtures of plant polysaccharides of various types and complexity. We studied the extent and preferential order in which mixtures of plant polysaccharides (arabinoxylan, xyloglucan, β-glucan, and pectin) were utilized by a coculture of five bacterial species (Bacteroides ovatus, Bifidobacterium longum subspecies longum, Megasphaera elsdenii, Ruminococcus gnavus, and Veillonella parvula). These species are members of the human gut microbiota and have the biochemical capacity, collectively, to degrade and ferment the polysaccharides and produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). B. ovatus utilized glycans in the order β-glucan, pectin, xyloglucan, and arabinoxylan, whereas B. longum subsp. longum utilization was in the order arabinoxylan, arabinan, pectin, and β-glucan. Propionate, as a proportion of total SCFAs, was augmented when polysaccharide mixtures contained galactan, resulting in greater succinate production by B. ovatus and conversion of succinate to propionate by V. parvula. Overall, we derived a synthetic ecological community that carries out SCFA production by the common pathways used by bacterial species for this purpose. Systems like this might be used to predict changes to the emergent properties of the gut ecosystem when diet is altered, with the aim of beneficially affecting human physiology.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01905-19
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2020


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