Bifidobacterium asteroides PRL2011 genome analysis reveals clues for colonization of the insect gut

PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44229. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044229. Epub 2012 Sep 20.


Bifidobacteria are known as anaerobic/microaerophilic and fermentative microorganisms, which commonly inhabit the gastrointestinal tract of various animals and insects. Analysis of the 2,167,301 bp genome of Bifidobacterium asteroides PRL2011, a strain isolated from the hindgut of Apis mellifera var. ligustica, commonly known as the honey bee, revealed its predicted capability for respiratory metabolism. Conservation of the latter gene clusters in various B. asteroides strains enforces the notion that respiration is a common metabolic feature of this ancient bifidobacterial species, which has been lost in currently known mammal-derived Bifidobacterium species. In fact, phylogenomic based analyses suggested an ancient origin of B. asteroides and indicates it as an ancestor of the genus Bifidobacterium. Furthermore, the B. asteroides PRL2011 genome encodes various enzymes for coping with toxic products that arise as a result of oxygen-mediated respiration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bifidobacterium / classification
  • Bifidobacterium / genetics*
  • Bifidobacterium / metabolism
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Gene Order
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Insecta / microbiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Grant support

This work was financially supported by the Cariparma Bank Foundation to MV. This work was also financially supported by a Federation European Microbiology society (FEMS) Advanced Fellowship 2011 and an Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology (IRCSET) Embark postdoctoral fellowship to FT. DV is a member of The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre and the Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster, both funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), through the Irish Government's National Development Plan (grant nos. 07/CE/B1368 and 08/SRC/B1393, respectively). The funders had no role in this study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.