Cross-feeding between Bifidobacterium longum BB536 and acetate-converting, butyrate-producing colon bacteria during growth on oligofructose

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Dec;72(12):7835-41. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01296-06. Epub 2006 Oct 20.


In vitro coculture fermentations of Bifidobacterium longum BB536 and two acetate-converting, butyrate-producing colon bacteria, Anaerostipes caccae DSM 14662 and Roseburia intestinalis DSM 14610, with oligofructose as the sole energy source, were performed to study interspecies interactions. Two clearly distinct types of cross-feeding were identified. A. caccae DSM 14662 was not able to degrade oligofructose but could grow on the fructose released by B. longum BB536 during oligofructose breakdown. R. intestinalis DSM 14610 could degrade oligofructose, but only after acetate was added to the medium. Detailed kinetic analyses of oligofructose breakdown by the last strain revealed simultaneous degradation of the different chain length fractions, in contrast with the preferential degradation of shorter fractions by B. longum BB536. In a coculture of both strains, initial oligofructose degradation and acetate production by B. longum BB536 took place, which in turn also allowed oligofructose breakdown by R. intestinalis DSM 14610. These and similar cross-feeding mechanisms could play a role in the colon ecosystem and contribute to the combined bifidogenic/butyrogenic effect observed after addition of inulin-type fructans to the diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / metabolism*
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / classification
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / growth & development
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / metabolism*
  • Bifidobacterium / growth & development
  • Bifidobacterium / metabolism*
  • Butyrates / metabolism*
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • Culture Media
  • Ecosystem
  • Fermentation
  • Fructose
  • Humans
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Probiotics*


  • Acetates
  • Butyrates
  • Culture Media
  • Oligosaccharides
  • oligofructose
  • Fructose