Caister Academic Press

Analysis of bifidobacterial populations in bowel ecology studies

Gerald W. Tannock
from: Bifidobacteria: Genomics and Molecular Aspects (Edited by: Baltasar Mayo and Douwe van Sinderen). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2010)


Members of the genus Bifidobacterium are fermentative bacteria that utilize a variety of carbohydrates, especially oligosaccharides, resulting in the formation of acetic and lactic acids. Hexoses are utilized by an unusual metabolic pathway known as the 'bifid shunt'. The ecology of bifidobacteria can be determined in the laboratory using culture-dependent and culture-independent methods. Nine bifidobacterial species that can be considered to be autochthonous to the bowel have been detected in human faeces. Bifidobacteria achieve large population sizes in the bowels of humans during the first few months after birth. Bifidobacterial populations are probably enriched in the bowel by some of a huge variety of oligosaccharides present in breast milk. The variety of oligosaccharides in milk may partially dictate the kinds of bifidobacteria that establish in the bowel of a given child. Naïve immune cells harvested from cord blood respond differentially to bifidobacterial species. Thus the occurrence of immunological diseases such as childhood allergies may be influenced by the kinds of bifidobacteria to which a child is exposed in early life. Therefore methods by which particular, immunologically potent bifidobacteria can be enriched in the infant bowel warrant intensive research read more ...
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