Fate, activity, and impact of ingested bacteria within the human gut microbiota

Trends Microbiol. 2015 Jun;23(6):354-66. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2015.03.002. Epub 2015 Apr 1.


The human gut contains a highly diverse microbial community that is essentially an open ecosystem, despite being deeply embedded within the human body. Food-associated fermentative bacteria, including probiotics, are major sources of ingested bacteria that may temporarily complement resident microbial communities, thus forming part of our transient microbiome. Here, we review data on the fate and activity of ingested bacteria and, in particular, lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and their impact on the composition and metabolism of the gut microbiome with a focus on data from clinical studies. In addition, we discuss the mechanisms involved and the potential impact on the host's health.

Keywords: clinical studies; gut microbiota; ingested bacteria; probiotics; transient microbiome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Bifidobacterium / physiology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diet
  • Eating*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / biosynthesis
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / anatomy & histology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus / physiology
  • Microbial Interactions*
  • Probiotics* / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics* / metabolism
  • Propionibacteriaceae / physiology


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile