The influence of incubation pH on the activity of rat and human gut flora enzymes

J Appl Bacteriol. 1989 May;66(5):433-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.1989.tb05112.x.


The activities of three bacterial biotransformation enzymes (beta-glucuronidase, beta-glucosidase, nitrate reductase) were determined in suspensions of rat caecal contents or human faeces over the pH range 6-8. All three enzymes were influenced by pH, as exemplified by beta-glucosidase activity which diminished as pH increased. In other instances the rat and human flora showed distinct profiles, with nitrate reductase activity undetectable in human faeces below pH 6.6, whereas the rat caecal flora displayed optimal reduction of nitrate around neutrality. The most pronounced host-species difference was found with beta-glucuronidase, which showed maximal activity at pH 6.0 in human faecal bacteria, while the rat caecal flora expressed greatest activity at pH 8.0. All three enzyme activities were associated with that fraction of rat caecal or human faecal material sedimented by centrifugation at 5000 g for 15 min, with little or no metabolism occurring in the 11,000 g supernatant fluid. The results demonstrate that pH has a pronounced effect on the enzymic activity of bacterial preparations from rat and human sources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Cecum / microbiology
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Glucosidases / metabolism*
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Intestine, Large / microbiology*
  • Nitrate Reductases / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • beta-Glucosidase / metabolism*


  • Nitrate Reductases
  • Glucosidases
  • beta-Glucosidase
  • Glucuronidase