Recent studies show that a single or small number of intestinal microbes can completely degrade complex carbohydrates. This suggests a drive towards competitive utilisation of dietary complex carbohydrates resulting in limited microbial diversity, at odds with the health benefits associated with a diverse microbiome. This study investigates the enzymatic metabolism of wheat and rye arabinoxylans (AX) using in vitro fermentation, with a porcine faecal inoculum. Through studying the activity of AX-degrading enzymes and the structural changes of residual AX during fermentation, we show that the AX-degrading enzymes are mainly cell-associated, which enables the microbes to utilise the AX competitively. However, potential for cross-feeding is also demonstrated to occur by two distinct mechanisms: (1) release of AX after partial degradation by cell-associated enzymes, and (2) release of enzymes during biomass turnover, indicative of co-operative AX degradation. This study provides a model for the combined competitive-co-operative utilisation of complex dietary carbohydrates by gut microorganisms.
Scientific Reports – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 14, 2018
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