Galacto- and Fructo-oligosaccharides Utilized for Growth by Cocultures of Bifidobacterial Species Characteristic of the Infant Gut

2020-06-30T02:54:22Z (GMT) by Ian Sims GW Tannock
Copyright © 2020 American Society for Microbiology. Bifidobacterial species are common inhabitants of the gut of human infants during the period when milk is a major component of the diet. Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum subspecies longum, and B. longum subspecies infantis have been detected frequently in infant feces, but B. longum subsp. infantis may be disadvantaged numerically in the gut of infants in westernized countries. This may be due to the different durations of breast milk feeding in different countries. Supplementation of the infant diet or replacement of breast milk using formula feeds is common in Western countries. Formula milks often contain galacto- and/or fructo-oligosaccharides (GOS and FOS, respectively) as additives to augment the concentration of oligosaccharides in ruminant milks, but the ability of B. longum subsp. infantis to utilize these potential growth substrates when they are in competition with other bifidobacterial species is unknown. We compared the growth and oligosaccharide utilization of GOS and FOS by bifidobacterial species in pure culture and coculture. Short-chain GOS and FOS (degrees of polymerization [DP] 2 and 3) were favored growth substrates for strains of B. bifidum and B. longum subsp. longum, whereas both B. breve and B. longum subsp. infantis had the ability to utilize both short- and longer-chain GOS and FOS (DP 2 to 6). B. breve was nevertheless numerically dominant over B. longum subsp. infantis in cocultures. This was probably related to the slower use of GOS of DP 3 by B. longum subsp. infantis, indicating that the kinetics of substrate utilization is an important ecological factor in the assemblage of gut communities.IMPORTANCE The kinds of bacteria that form the collection of microbes (the microbiota) in the gut of human infants may influence health and well-being. Knowledge of how the composition of the infant diet influences the assemblage of the bacterial collection is therefore important because dietary interventions may offer opportunities to alter the microbiota with the aim of improving health. Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis is a well-known bacterial species, but under modern child-rearing conditions it may be disadvantaged in the gut. Modern formula milks often contain particular oligosaccharide additives that are generally considered to support bifidobacterial growth. However, studies of the ability of various bifidobacterial species to grow together in the presence of these oligosaccharides have not been conducted. These kinds of studies are essential for developing concepts of microbial ecology related to the influence of human nutrition on the development of the gut microbiota.