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Benef Microbes. 2010 Jun;1(2):139-48. doi: 10.3920/BM2009.0029.

Xylo-oligosaccharides and lactitol promote the growth of Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus species in pure cultures.

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Danisco Finland, Health and Nutrition, Kantvik, Finland.


The current screening study aimed at identifying promising prebiotic and synbiotic candidates. The fermentation of xylo-oligosaccharides, xylan, galacto-oligosaccharide, fructo-oligosaccharide, polydextrose, lactitol, gentiobiose and pullulan was investigated in vitro. The ability of these established and potential prebiotic candidates to function as a sole carbon source for probiotic (Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus), intestinal and potential pathogenic microbes (Eubacterium, Bacteroides, Clostridium, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus) was assessed in pure cultures. Xylo-oligosaccharides were fermented with high specificity by the tested Bifidobacterium lactis strains and lactitol by lactobacilli, whereas galacto-oligosaccharides, fructo-oligosaccharides and gentiobiose were utilised by a larger group of microbes. Xylan, polydextrose and pullulan were utilised to a limited extent by only a few of the tested microbes. The results of this screening study indicate that xylo-oligosaccharides and lactitol support the growth of a limited number of beneficial microbes in pure cultures. Such a high degree of specificity has not been previously reported for established prebiotics. Based on these results, the most promising prebiotics and synbiotic combinations can be selected for further testing.

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