Gluconate metabolism in Lactobacillus and its role in persistence in the human intestine.
The demand for functional foods that provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition is on the rise. Prebiotics are non-viable food components that promote the growth of a number of beneficial bacteria that naturally inhabit the human intestinal tract. Some of these beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, are capable of eliciting health benefits such as reduced incidence of lactose intolerance and diarrhea, improved immune response and reduced cancer risk. The present studies address the effect of gluconate, a component of many foods and food supplements, on human intestinal microflora. Genes involved in gluconate metabolism in Lactobacillus reuteri were characterized.