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Bifidobacteria : genetic modification and the study of their role in the colon

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Author: Werf, M. van der · Venema, K.
Institution: TNO Voeding
Source:Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 1, 49, 378-383
Identifier: 42472
Keywords: Nutrition · In vitro gastrointestinal model · Prebiotics · Transformation · Probiotic agent · Bacterium transformation · Biological model · Colon flora · DNA modification · DNA vector · Gastrointestinal tract · Genetic transfection · Health promotion · Human · Nonhuman · Plasmid · Small intestine · Stomach · Bifidobacterium · Colon · Genetic Engineering · Genetic Vectors · Health Promotion · Humans · Models, Biological · Plasmids · Probiotics · Transfection · Bacteria (microorganisms) · Bifidobacterium


Bifidobacteria are among the most common bacteria in the human intestine and are thought to have a positive effect on human health. Therefore, there is an increasing interest in using these microorganisms as probiotics, either in fermented dairy products or formulated as tablets. However, convincing scientific data supporting their health claims are scarce. The study of the role of bifidobacteria in the colon is complicated by the fact that they are part of a complex ecosystem also interacting with the human host and by the fact that their in vivo study encounters many ethical constraints. Several tools have been developed at TNO with which the role of bifidobacteria can be studied. These include (i) an efficient transformation protocol for the introduction of foreign DNA into Bifidobacterium strains and (ii) in vitro models of the stomach/small intestine (TIM-1) and large intestine (TIM-2), creating an environment closely resembling that of the in vivo situation. With these tools, biomarkers from bifidobacteria quantifying their positive effect on gut health can be identified.