Microbes in gut consume plant sugars as food

According to new research, the bacteria in our stomach are fed by a carbohydrate that is frequently found bound to plant proteins.
Representative image
Representative image

BIRMINGHAM: According to new research, the bacteria in our stomach are fed by a carbohydrate that is frequently found bound to plant proteins.

The utilization of plant N-glycans, a form of complex carbohydrate, as nutrition by different species of gut microorganisms is described in a work that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers from Newcastle University and the University of Birmingham, who are leading the study, utilized genomic data to pinpoint specific enzymes produced by gut bacteria to digest the intricate carbohydrate structures.

According to new research, the bacteria in our stomach are fed by a carbohydrate that is frequently found bound to plant proteins.

The utilization of plant N-glycans, a form of complex carbohydrate, as nutrition by different species of gut microorganisms is described in a work that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers from Newcastle University and the University of Birmingham, who are leading the study, utilized genomic data to pinpoint specific enzymes produced by gut bacteria to digest the intricate carbohydrate structures.

"The gut microbiome is an incredibly important feature of human health, and this finding will enable us to better understand the microbiome. By identifying the particular enzymes that these microbes use to digest their food, we can consider how future diets can be developed that promote a healthy gut, and as a result, improve our general health.

"One unexpected outcome from the study is that insect N-glycans are also targeted by some of the enzymes discovered. In a future scenario where we increasingly rely on alternative protein sources such as insects, this work provides insights into how insect proteins may also provide nutrients for our gut microbes."

"We are still discovering the role our gut plays in our overall health, so understanding how the microorganisms in our gut are able to use plant N-glycans is crucial," said Dr David Bolam, co-lead author of the study from Newcastle University.

By discovering new enzymes that could be utilized to change and analyze N-glycan structures for use in the medical and industrial fields, has advanced our understanding of how these sugars are broken down by the microbiota.

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