In vitro fermentation of raffinose by the human gut bacteria†
Raffinose has become a major focus of research interest and recent studies have shown that besides beneficial bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecium and Streptococcus pneumoniae can also utilize raffinose and raffinose might lead to flatulence in some hosts. Therefore, it is required to find out the raffinose-metabolizing bacteria in the gut and the bacteria responsible for the flatulence. The BLASTP search results showed that the homologous proteins of glycosidases related to raffinose utilization are widely distributed in 196 of the 528 gut bacterial strains. Fifty-nine bacterial strains belonging to nine species of five genera were isolated from human feces and were found to be capable of utilizing raffinose; of these species, Enterococcus avium and Streptococcus salivarius were reported for the first time. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of the supernatants of the nine species revealed that the bacteria could utilize raffinose in different manners. Glucose and melibiose were detected in the supernatants of Enterococcus avium E5 and Streptococcus salivarius B5, respectively. However, no resulting saccharides of raffinose degradation were detected in the supernatants of other seven strains, indicating that they had different raffinose utilization types from Enterococcus avium E5 and Streptococcus salivarius B5. Gas was produced with raffinose utilization by Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecium, Streptococcus macedonicus, Streptococcus pasteurianus and Enterococcus avium. Thus, more attention should be paid to the raffinose-utilizing bacteria besides bifidobacteria and further studies are required to reveal the mechanisms of raffinose utilization to clarify the relationship between raffinose and gut bacteria.