Enhanced butyrate formation by cross-feeding between Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Bifidobacterium adolescentis

David Rios-Covian, Miguel Gueimonde, Sylvia H Duncan, Harry J Flint, Clara G de Los Reyes-Gavilan

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207 Citations (Scopus)


Cross-feeding is an important metabolic interaction mechanism of bacterial groups inhabiting the human colon and includes features such as the utilization of acetate by butyrate-producing bacteria as may occur between Bifidobacterium and Faecalibacterium genera. In this study we assessed the utilization of different carbon sources (glucose, starch, inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides) by strains of both genera and selected the best suited combinations for evidencing this cross-feeding phenomenon. Co-cultures of B. adolescentis L2-32 with F. prausnitzii S3/L3 with fructo-oligosaccharides as carbon source, as well as with F. prausnitzii A2-165 in starch, were carried out and the production of short chain fatty acids was determined. In both co-cultures acetate levels decreased between 8 to 24 h of incubation and were lower than in the corresponding B. adolescentis monocultures. In contrast, butyrate concentrations were higher in co-cultures as compared to the respective F. prausnitzii monocultures, indicating enhanced formation of butyrate by F. prausnitzii in the presence of the bifidobacteria. Variations in the levels of acetate and butyrate were more pronounced in the co-culture with fructo-oligosaccharides than with starch. Our results provide a clear demonstration of cross-feeding between B. adolescentis and F. prausnitzii.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfnv176
Number of pages7
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number21
Early online date29 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

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DRC was funded by FPI predoctoral fellowship from Spanish
Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) (FPI Programme) and by the travel grant EEBB-I-14–08860 for accomplishing a short stay at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. The work was financially supported by the project AGL2010– 16525 granted by MINECO to the Spanish Group. The activity of the Spanish Probiotics and Prebiotics Group is being partly supported through the Grant GRUPIN14–043, which received both regional and European Union FEDER funds. The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health receives financial support from the Scottish Government Rural and Environmental Sciences and Analytical Services.


  • faecalibacterium prausnitzii
  • Bifidobacterium adolescentis
  • butyrate
  • acetate
  • starch
  • fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
  • probiotics


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