Regulatory effects of bifidobacteria on the growth of other colonic bacteria

J Appl Bacteriol. 1994 Oct;77(4):412-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.1994.tb03443.x.


In the human large intestine bifidobacteria are a numerically important group of micro-organisms which are considered to exert a range of biological activities related to host health. One aspect is the inhibitory effect of these bacteria on other species, possibly excluding long term colonization by invasive pathogens. It has been suggested that the mechanism of inhibition carried out by bifidobacteria is related to the fermentative production of acids such as acetate and lactate. Experiments reported in this paper attempted to address this theory. Co-culture experiments whereby Bifidobacterium infantis was incubated with Escherichia coli and Clostridium perfringens, in a variety of fermentation systems, indicated that the bifidobacterium was able to exert an inhibitory effect not necessarily related to acid production. Further studies showed that eight species of bifidobacteria could variously excrete an anti-microbial substance with a broad spectrum of activity. Species belonging to the genera Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter and Shigella, as well as Vibrio cholerae, were all affected. These results show that bifidobacteria are able to exert more than one mechanism of inhibition, which may be of some importance with regard to protection against gastroenteritis.

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / metabolism
  • Acetic Acid
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / biosynthesis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification
  • Bifidobacterium / metabolism
  • Bifidobacterium / physiology*
  • Clostridium perfringens / growth & development*
  • Clostridium perfringens / pathogenicity
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / growth & development
  • Enterobacteriaceae / pathogenicity
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development*
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity
  • Fermentation
  • Gastroenteritis / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Lactates / metabolism
  • Lactic Acid


  • Acetates
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Lactates
  • Lactic Acid
  • Acetic Acid