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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2007 Jul;61(1):121-31. Epub 2007 Mar 28.

Characterization of the xylan-degrading microbial community from human faeces.

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Unité de Microbiologie, INRA, Centre de Recherches de Clermont-Ferrand/Theix, Saint Genès-Champanelle, France.


In humans, plant cell wall polysaccharides represent an important source of dietary fibres that are digested by gut microorganisms. Despite the extensive degradation of xylan in the colon, the population structure and the taxonomy of the predominant bacteria involved in degradation of this polysaccharide have not been extensively explored. The objective of our study was to characterize the xylanolytic microbial community from human faeces, using xylan from different botanic origins. The xylanolytic population was enumerated at high level in all faecal samples studied. The predominant xylanolytic organisms further isolated (20 strains) were assigned to Roseburia and Bacteroides species. Some Bacteroides isolates corresponded to the two newly described species Bacteroides intestinalis and Bacteroides dorei. Other isolates were closely related to Bacteroides sp. nov., a cellulolytic bacterium recently isolated from human faeces. The remaining Bacteroides strains could be considered to belong to a new species of this genus. Roseburia isolates could be assigned to the species Roseburia intestinalis. The xylanase activity of the Bacteroides and Roseburia isolates was found to be higher than that of other gut xylanolytic species previously identified. Our results provide new insights to the diversity and activity of the human gut xylanolytic community. Four new xylan-degrading Bacteroides species were identified and the xylanolytic capacity of R. intestinalis was further shown.

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