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J Appl Bacteriol. 1990 Feb;68(2):179-87.

Effect of different carbohydrates on growth, polysaccharidase and glycosidase production by Bacteroides ovatus, in batch and continuous culture.

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Medical Research Council, Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Cambridge, UK.


Bacteroides ovatus was grown in batch culture on 12 different carbon sources (five polysaccharides, seven monosaccharides and disaccharides). Specific growth rates were determined for each substrate together with polysaccharidase and glycosidase activities. Growth rates on polymerized carbohydrates were as fast or faster than on corresponding simple sugars, demonstrating that the rate of polysaccharide depolymerization was not a factor limiting growth. Bacteroides ovatus synthesized a large range of polymer-degrading enzymes. These polysaccharidases and glycosidases were generally repressed during growth on simple sugars, but arabinose was required for optimal production of alpha-arabinofuranosidase. Polysaccharidase and glycosidase activities were measured in continuous cultures grown with either xylan or guar gum under putative carbon limitation. With the exception of beta-xylosidase, activities of the polymer-degrading enzymes were inversely related to growth rate. This correlated with polysaccharide utilization which was greatest at low dilution rates. These results show that Bact. ovatus is highly adapted for growth on polymerized carbohydrate in the human colon and confirm that the utilization of polysaccharides is partly regulated at the level of enzyme synthesis.

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