Impact of consumption of oligosaccharide-containing biscuits on the fecal microbiota of humans

G.W. Tannock, K. Munro, R. Bibiloni, M.A. Simon, P. Hargreaves, P. Gopal, H.J.M. Harmsen, Gjalt Welling

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    Human subjects consumed biscuits containing either galacto-oligosaccharides or fructo-oligosaccharides in a double-blinded, crossover study. The impact of supplementing the diet with three biscuits per day on the fecal microbiota was evaluated by selective culture of particular bacterial groups, measurement of β-galactosidase activity, and nucleic acid-based analytical methods (PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis [PCR-DGGE] and fluorescent in situ hybridization). The composition of the bifidobacterial populations was monitored at the level of species (PCR-DGGE) and strains (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of DNA digests), and representative cultures were tested quantitatively for their ability to use galacto-oligosaccharides. Technical improvements to DGGE analysis of the microbiota were made by the use of an internal standard that allowed valid comparisons of fragment staining intensities to be made between profiles, the use of S1 nuclease digestion to remove single-stranded DNA to facilitate cloning of DNA sequences cut from gels, and the extraction of RNA to be used as the template in reverse transcription-PCR-DGGE. RNA-DGGE profiles were markedly different (Dice's similarity coefficient, 58.5%) from those generated by DNA-DGGE. Neither the sizes of the bacterial populations nor the DNA-DGGE profiles of the microbiota were altered by the consumption of the biscuits, but the RNA-DGGE profiles were altered by the detection or increased staining intensity of 16S rRNA gene sequences originating from Bifidobacterium adolescentis and/or Colinsella aerofaciens in the feces of 11 of 15 subjects. β-Galactosidase activity was elevated in the feces of some subjects as a result of biscuit consumption. Subjects differed in the ability of the bifidobacterial strains harbored in their feces to use galacto-oligosaccharides. Our observations suggest that a phylogenetic approach to analysis of the gut ecosystem may not always be optimal and that a more physiological (biochemical) method might be more informative.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2129 - 2136
    Number of pages8
    JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr-2004


    • INULIN
    • PCR

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