The contribution of the gut microbiota to health and disease is becoming ever more apparent in the last number of years, due to developments in DNA sequencing technology and more well-defined cultivation techniques. This has resulted in the identification of health-promoting bacteria. Until recently, prebiotics, non-digestible food substrates which are selectively utilised by beneficial bacteria, were employed with a view to increasing the growth of well-established health promoting bacteria, namely Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. However, other beneficial bacteria recently revealed may also be targeted to enhance their growth as they establish themselves as the next generation of health-promoting microbes. These include anaerobes such as Akkermansia muciniphila, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Eubacterium rectale. Identification of growth substrates/bioactives through the analysis of genome sequence data can aid in elucidating which substrates may best enhance the growth of these microbes which are often difficult to grow.

The phenotypic microbial trait analyser, Traitar, can predict 67 phenotypes based on the genome sequence inputted. Some of these traits include substrates that could potentially be utilised by the bacteria. Another tool, CarveMe, which has been created with the aim of making metabolic modelling more user-friendly, was also used with the same genomes. A select number of substrates identified in both tools have been chosen to be evaluated in order to establish the accuracy of these predictive tools as well as giving an indication as to how these beneficial microbes can be modulated through dietary components.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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