Evolutionary architecture of the infant-adapted group of Bifidobacterium species associated with the probiotic function

Min Jung Kwak, Soon Kyeong Kwon, Jae Kyung Yoon, Ju Yeon Song, Jae Gu Seo, Myung Jun Chung, Jihyun F. Kim

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Bifidobacteria, often associated with the gastrointestinal tract of animals, are well known for their roles as probiotics. Among the dozens of Bifidobacterium species, Bifidobacterium bifidum, B. breve, and B. longum are the ones most frequently isolated from the feces of infants and known to help the digestion of human milk oligosaccharides. To investigate the correlation between the metabolic properties of bifidobacteria and their phylogeny, we performed a phylogenomic analysis based on 452 core genes of forty-four completely sequenced Bifidobacterium species. Results show that a major evolutionary event leading to the clade of the infant-adapted species is linked to carbohydrate metabolism, but it is not the only factor responsible for the adaptation of bifidobacteria to the gut. The genome of B. longum subsp. infantis, a typical bifidobacterium in the gut of breast-fed infants, encodes proteins associated with several kinds of species-specific metabolic pathways, including urea metabolism and biosynthesis of riboflavin and lantibiotics. Our results demonstrate that these metabolic features, which are associated with the probiotic function of bifidobacteria, are species-specific and highly correlate with their phylogeny.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-439
Number of pages11
JournalSystematic and Applied Microbiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Yu Sook Chung for critically reading the manuscript. This work was financially supported by the National Research Foundation of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning ( NRF-2014M3C9A3068822 ) and Cell Biotech Co., Ltd . JYS was supported by the Strategic Initiative for Microbiomes in Agriculture and Food of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs ( 914006-04-2-HD020 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier GmbH

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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