The abundance and variety of carbohydrate-active enzymes in the human gut microbiota

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2013 Jul;11(7):497-504. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3050. Epub 2013 Jun 10.


Descriptions of the microbial communities that live on and in the human body have progressed at a spectacular rate over the past 5 years, fuelled primarily by highly parallel DNA-sequencing technologies and associated advances in bioinformatics, and by the expectation that understanding how to manipulate the structure and functions of our microbiota will allow us to affect health and prevent or treat diseases. Among the myriad of genes that have been identified in the human gut microbiome, those that encode carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes) are of particular interest, as these enzymes are required to digest most of our complex repertoire of dietary polysaccharides. In this Analysis article, we examine the carbohydrate-digestive capacity of a simplified but representative mini-microbiome in order to highlight the abundance and variety of bacterial CAZymes that are represented in the human gut microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / enzymology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / isolation & purification
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Glycosyltransferases / isolation & purification
  • Glycosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Metagenome*
  • Polysaccharide-Lyases / isolation & purification
  • Polysaccharide-Lyases / metabolism


  • Glycosyltransferases
  • Glycoside Hydrolases
  • Polysaccharide-Lyases