Gut Colonization Mechanisms of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium: An Argument for Personalized Designs

Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2021 Mar 25:12:213-233. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-061120-014739. Epub 2020 Dec 14.


Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium spp. are best understood for their applications as probiotics, which are often transient, but as commensals it is probable that stable colonization in the gut is important for their beneficial roles. Recent research suggests that the establishment and persistence of strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in the gut are species- and strain-specific and affected by natural history, genomic adaptability, and metabolic interactions of the bacteria and the microbiome and immune aspects of the host but also regulated by diet. This provides new perspectives on the underlying molecular mechanisms. With an emphasis on host-microbe interaction, this review outlines how the characteristics of individual Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria, the host genotype and microbiome structure,diet, and host-microbe coadaptation during bacterial gut transition determine and influence the colonization process. The diet-tuned and personally tailored colonization can be achieved via a machine learning prediction model proposed here.

Keywords: diet; gut colonization; microbiome; natural history; personalized intervention; probiotics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bifidobacterium / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Lactobacillus / genetics
  • Microbiota*
  • Probiotics*