News last update:7 Aug 2012

Researchers discover how probiotics colonise

Genes responsible for efficient colonisation of the gut have been discovered by a team of scientists at the University College Cork, Ireland.

The research, which was led by Dr Mary O’Connell-Motherway and Professor Douwe van Sinderen at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, University College Cork, discovered the genes responsible for small appendages in Bifidobacterium may help to explain how the probiotic bacteria colonise the intestine.
The research team sequenced the DNA of Bifidobacterium breve UCC2003, showing for the first time that Bifidobacteria have genes which produce finger-like appendages known as TAD pili – which allow them to adhere to the gut lining and form colonies.
The researchers said that the presence of TAD pili in Bifidobacteria suggests a common mechanism for gut colonisation.
“The identification of TAD pili is a significant step towards understanding the interaction between bifidobacteria and their host and how the microbiota influences gastrointestinal health” said Fergus Shanahan, professor and chairman of the department of medicine and director of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, University College Cork.
The research finding was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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