Study Title:

A Human Gut Commensal Ferments Cranberry Carbohydrates To Produce Formate.

Study Abstract

Commensal bifidobacteria colonize the human gastrointestinal tract and catabolize glycans that are impervious to host digestion. Accordingly, Bifidobacterium longum typically secretes acetate and lactate as fermentative end products. This study tested the hypothesis that B. longum utilizes cranberry-derived xyloglucans in a strain-dependent manner. Interestingly, the B. longum strain that efficiently utilizes cranberry xyloglucans secretes 2.0 to 2.5 mol of acetate-lactate. The 1.5 acetate:lactate ratio theoretical yield obtained in hexose fermentations shifts during xyloglucan metabolism. Accordingly, this metabolic shift is characterized by increased acetate and formate production at the expense of lactate. α-l-Arabinofuranosidase, an arabinan endo-1,5-α-l-arabinosidase, and a β-xylosidase with a carbohydrate substrate-binding protein and carbohydrate ABC transporter membrane proteins are upregulated (>2-fold change), which suggests carbon flux through this catabolic pathway. Finally, syntrophic interactions occurred with strains that utilize carbohydrate products derived from initial degradation from heterologous bacteria.IMPORTANCE This was a study of bacterial metabolism of complex cranberry carbohydrates termed xyloglucans that are likely not digested prior to reaching the colon. This is significant, as bifidobacteria interact with this dietary compound to potentially impact human host health through energy and metabolite production by utilizing these substrates. Specific bacterial strains utilize cranberry xyloglucans as a nutritive source, indicating unknown mechanisms that are not universal in bifidobacteria. In addition, xyloglucan metabolism proceeds by using an alternative pathway that could lead to further research to investigate mechanisms underlying this interaction. Finally, we observed cross-feeding between bacteria in which one strain degrades the cranberry xyloglucan to make it available to a second strain. Similar nutritive strategies are known to occur within the gut. In aggregate, this study may lead to novel foods or supplements used to impact human health through rational manipulation of the human microbiome.

Study Information

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2017 Aug 17;83(17):e01097-17. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01097-17. PMID: 28667113; PMCID: PMC5561279.

Full Study