Biofortification aims to improve the micronutrient concentration and bioavailability in staple food crops. Unlike other strategies utilized to alleviate Fe deficiency, studies of the gut microbiota in the context of Fe biofortification are scarce. In this study, we performed a 6-week feeding trial in Gallus gallus (n = 15), aimed to investigate the Fe status and the alterations in the gut microbiome following the administration of Fe-biofortified carioca bean based diet (BC) versus a Fe-standard carioca bean based diet (SC). The tested diets were designed based on the Brazilian food consumption survey. Two primary outcomes were observed: (1) a significant increase in total body Hb-Fe values in the group receiving the Fe-biofortified carioca bean based diet; and (2) changes in the gut microbiome composition and function were observed, specifically, significant changes in phylogenetic diversity between treatment groups, as there was increased abundance of bacteria linked to phenolic catabolism, and increased abundance of beneficial SCFA-producing bacteria in the BC group. The BC group also presented a higher intestinal villi height compared to the SC group. Our results demonstrate that the Fe-biofortified carioca bean variety was able to moderately improve Fe status and to positively affect the intestinal functionality and bacterial populations.
Keywords: Biofortification; gut microbiome; intestinal morphometry; iron deficiency; metagenome; polyphenols.