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Gut Microbes. 2011 Jul-Aug;2(4):217-26. doi: 10.4161/gmic.2.4.16798. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

The fecal bifidobacterial transcriptome of adults: a microarray approach.

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Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, Dreijenplein 10, 6703 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Bifidobacteria are a predominant group present among adult human intestinal microbiota and are considered to be beneficial to host health. Both the dynamics and functional activity of bifidobacteria from the intestinal tract of four adults, following ingestion of a mix consisting of short chain galactooligosaccharides, long chain fructooligosaccharides and acidic oligosaccharides from pectin hydrolysate (GFP), was investigated. The percentage of total bifidobacteria, monitored by quantitative real time PCR, was not significantly altered but marked species-specific changes occurred in all individuals over time, indicating a dynamic bifidobacterial community. Insight into the functional activity of the bifidobacteria was acquired using a clone library-based microarray comprising the genomes of various bifidobacteria to reveal the bifidobacterial transcriptome within the fecal community. Total RNA from the fecal microbial community was hybridized to the microarray and 310 clones were selected for sequencing which revealed genes belonging to a wide range of functional groups demonstrating substantial metabolic activity. While the intake of GFP did not have a significant effect on the overall change in gene expression, 82 genes showed a significant change. Most of the predicted genes were involved in metabolism of carbohydrates of plant origin, house keeping functions such as DNA replication and transcription, followed by membrane transport of a wide variety of substrates including sugars and metals and amino acid metabolism. Other genes were involved in transport, nucleotide metabolism, amino acid metabolism, environmental information processing and cellular processes and signalling. A smaller number of genes were involved in general metabolism, glycan metabolism, energy metabolism, lipid metabolism and cell surface. These results support the notion that bifidobacteria utilize mainly indigestible polysaccharides as their main source of energy and biosynthesis of cellular components.

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