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Journal Article

Approaches to Investigate Selective Dietary Polysaccharide Utilization by Human Gut Microbiota at a Functional Level


Reintjes,  Greta
Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Klassen, L., Xing, X., Tingley, J. P., Low, K. E., King, M. L., Reintjes, G., et al. (2021). Approaches to Investigate Selective Dietary Polysaccharide Utilization by Human Gut Microbiota at a Functional Level. FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, 12: 632684. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2021.632684.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-18E1-E
The human diet is temporally and spatially dynamic, and influenced by culture, regional food systems, socioeconomics, and consumer preference. Such factors result in enormous structural diversity of ingested glycans that are refractory to digestion by human enzymes. To convert these glycans into metabolizable nutrients and energy, humans rely upon the catalytic potential encoded within the gut microbiome, a rich collective of microorganisms residing in the gastrointestinal tract. The development of high-throughput sequencing methods has enabled microbial communities to be studied with more coverage and depth, and as a result, cataloging the taxonomic structure of the gut microbiome has become routine. Efforts to unravel the microbial processes governing glycan digestion by the gut microbiome, however, are still in their infancy and will benefit by retooling our approaches to study glycan structure at high resolution and adopting next-generation functional methods. Also, new bioinformatic tools specialized for annotating carbohydrate-active enzymes and predicting their functions with high accuracy will be required for deciphering the catalytic potential of sequence datasets. Furthermore, physiological approaches to enable genotype-phenotype assignments within the gut microbiome, such as fluorescent polysaccharides, has enabled rapid identification of carbohydrate interactions at the single cell level. In this review, we summarize the current state-of-knowledge of these methods and discuss how their continued development will advance our understanding of gut microbiome function.