Distinct Polysaccharide Utilization Determines Interspecies Competition between Intestinal Prevotella spp

Cell Host Microbe. 2020 Dec 9;28(6):838-852.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2020.09.012. Epub 2020 Oct 27.


Prevotella spp. are a dominant bacterial genus within the human gut. Multiple Prevotella spp. co-exist in some individuals, particularly those consuming plant-based diets. Additionally, Prevotella spp. exhibit variability in the utilization of diverse complex carbohydrates. To investigate the relationship between Prevotella competition and diet, we isolated Prevotella species from the mouse gut, analyzed their genomes and transcriptomes in vivo, and performed competition experiments between species in mice. Diverse dominant Prevotella species compete for similar metabolic niches in vivo, which is linked to the upregulation of specific polysaccharide utilization loci (PULs). Complex plant-derived polysaccharides are required for Prevotella spp. expansion, with arabinoxylans having a prominent impact on species abundance. The most dominant Prevotella species encodes a specific tandem-repeat trsusC/D PUL that enables arabinoxylan utilization and is conserved in human Prevotella copri strains, particularly among those consuming a vegan diet. These findings suggest that efficient (arabino)xylan-utilization is a factor contributing to Prevotella dominance.

Keywords: Prevotella spp.; anaerobic microbiology; competition; diet; fiber degradation; gut microbiome; metagenomics; polysaccharides.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / genetics
  • Glycosyltransferases / genetics
  • Humans
  • Metagenomics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phylogeny
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*
  • Prevotella / classification
  • Prevotella / growth & development*
  • Prevotella / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Transcriptome
  • Vegans
  • Whole Genome Sequencing
  • Xylans / metabolism*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Polysaccharides
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Xylans
  • arabinoxylan
  • Glycosyltransferases
  • Glycoside Hydrolases

Supplementary concepts

  • Prevotella copri