The combination of a Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem with ad hoc molecular techniques (i.e. pyrosequencing, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and quantitative PCR) allowed an evaluation of the extent to which two plant polysaccharide supplements could modify a complex gut microbial community. The presence of Aloe vera gel powder and algae extract in product B as compared to the standard blend (product A) improved its fermentation along the entire simulated colon. The potential extended effect of product B in the simulated distal colon, as compared to product A, was confirmed by: (i) the separate clustering of the samples before and after the treatment in the phylogenetic-based dendrogram and OTU-based PCoA plot only for product B; (ii) a higher richness estimator (+33 vs. -36 % of product A); and (iii) a higher dynamic parameter (21 vs. 13 %). These data show that the combination of well designed in vitro simulators with barcoded pyrosequencing is a powerful tool for characterizing changes occurring in the gut microbiota following a treatment. However, for the quantification of low-abundance species-of interest because of their relationship to potential positive health effects (i.e. bifidobacteria or lactobacilli)-conventional molecular ecological approaches, such as PCR-DGGE and qPCR, still remain a very useful complementary tool.