Bifidobacteria represent one of the first colonizers of the mammalian gut, where such colonization is facilitated by their saccharolytic capabilities. Genomic analyses of bifidobacteria have revealed intriguing genetic strategies employed by these bacteria to access a variety of dietary and host-produced glycans. Bifidobacterial genome evolution therefore represents a fascinating example of how their chromosomes were molded to contain a large number of genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. One of the reasons as to why bifidobacteria are such dominant and prevalent members of the (early) microbiota is that they may access glycans in the gut through mutualistic cross-feeding or resource-sharing activities, which is indicative of 'social behavior' among bifidobacterial strains.
Keywords: Bifidobacterium; genomics; gut microbiota; metagenomics; probiotics.
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