Dietary plant glucosides are phytochemicals whose bioactivity and bioavailability can be modified by glucoside hydrolase activity of intestinal microbiota through the release of acylglycones. Bifidobacteria are gut commensals whose genomic potential indicates host-adaption as they possess a diverse set of glycosyl hydrolases giving access to a variety of dietary glycans. We hypothesized bifidobacteria with β-glucosidase activity could use plant glucosides as fermentation substrate and tested 115 strains assigned to eight different species and from different hosts for their potential to express β-glucosidases and ability to grow in the presence of esculin, amygdalin, and arbutin. Concurrently, the antibacterial activity of arbutin and its acylglycone hydroquinone was investigated. Beta-glucosidase activity of bifidobacteria was species specific and most prevalent in species occurring in human adults and animal hosts. Utilization and fermentation profiles of plant glucosides differed between strains and might provide a competitive benefit enabling the intestinal use of dietary plant glucosides as energy sources. Bifidobacterial β-glucosidase activity can increase the bioactivity of plant glucosides through the release of acylglycone.
Keywords: amygdalin; antibacterial activity; arbutin; bifidobacteria; esculin; hydroquinone; β-glucosidase.