UMMS Affiliation

Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems; Center for Microbiome Research

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Bacteria | Biochemical Phenomena, Metabolism, and Nutrition | Microbiology | Molecular, Genetic, and Biochemical Nutrition


Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) enrich beneficial bifidobacteria in the infant gut microbiome which produce molecules that impact development and physiology. 2'fucosyllactose (2'FL) is a highly abundant fucosylated HMO which is utilized by Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis, despite limited scientific understanding of the underlying mechanism. Moreover, there is not a current consensus on whether free fucose could be metabolized when not incorporated in a larger oligosaccharide structure. Based on metabolic and genomic analyses, we hypothesize that B. infantis catabolizes both free fucose and fucosyl oligosaccharide residues to produce 1,2-propanediol (1,2-PD). Accordingly, systems-level approaches including transcriptomics and proteomics support this metabolic path. Co-fermentation of fucose and limiting lactose or glucose was found to promote significantly higher biomass and 1,2-PD concentrations than individual substrates, suggesting a synergistic effect. In addition, and during growth on 2'FL, B. infantis achieves significantly higher biomass corresponding to increased 1,2-PD. These findings support a singular fucose catabolic pathway in B. infantis that is active on both free and HMO-derived fucose and intimately linked with central metabolism. The impact of fucose and 2'FL metabolism on B. infantis physiology provides insight into the role of fucosylated HMOs in influencing host- and microbe-microbe interactions within the infant gut microbiome.


2′fucosyllactose, bifidobacteria, fucose, human milk oligosaccharides, microbiome, microbiota

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Copyright © 2020 Dedon, Özcan, Rani and Sela. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI of Published Version



Dedon LR, Özcan E, Rani A, Sela DA. Bifidobacterium infantis Metabolizes 2'Fucosyllactose-Derived and Free Fucose Through a Common Catabolic Pathway Resulting in 1,2-Propanediol Secretion. Front Nutr. 2020 Nov 24;7:583397. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2020.583397. PMID: 33330584; PMCID: PMC7732495. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in nutrition

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.