Fermentations by saccharolytic intestinal bacteria

Am J Clin Nutr. 1979 Jan;32(1):164-72. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/32.1.164.


Most nonsporing anaerobes of the intestinal tract use the Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas scheme to ferment carbohydrates. Almost all of them oxidize pyruvate, the key fermentation intermediate, to acetyl coenzyme A and CO2 with reduction of a low-potential electron acceptor. H2 is formed from the low potential acceptor or from NADH. Pyruvate is a precursor of lactate, and phosphoenolpyruvate is a precursor of succinate and propionate. Ethanol, acetate, and butyrate are formed from acetyl coenzyme A. Formate is produced by reduction of CO2 by Ruminococcus albus. Heme is required by human Bacteroides for the formation of succinate and, in the presence of vitamin B12, propionate. A fermentation equation derived from the concentration of volatile acids found in human feces suggests that the fermentation in the large intestine is similar to the rumen fermentation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actinomycetales / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacteroides / metabolism
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism*
  • Electron Transport
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Fermentation
  • Gram-Negative Anaerobic Bacteria / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Intestines / physiology
  • Organ Specificity
  • Peptococcaceae / metabolism
  • Pyruvates / metabolism
  • Rumen / physiology
  • Species Specificity
  • Vitamin B 12 / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Pyruvates
  • Vitamin B 12