In vivo selection to identify bacterial strains with enhanced ecological performance in synbiotic applications

Janina A. Krumbeck, María X. Maldonado-Gomez, Inés Martínez, Steven A. Frese, Thomas E. Burkey, Karuna Rasineni, Amanda E. Ramer-Tait, Edward N. Harris, Robert W. Hutkins, Jens Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


One strategy for enhancing the establishment of probiotic bacteria in the human intestinal tract is via the parallel administration of a prebiotic, which is referred to as a synbiotic. Here we present a novel method that allows a rational selection of putative probiotic strains to be used in synbiotic applications: in vivo selection (IVS). This method consists of isolating candidate probiotic strains from fecal samples following enrichment with the respective prebiotic. To test the potential of IVS, we isolated bifidobacteria from human subjects who consumed increasing doses of galactooligosaccharides (GOS) for 9 weeks. A retrospective analysis of the fecal microbiota of one subject revealed an 8-fold enrichment in Bifidobacterium adolescentis strain IVS-1 during GOS administration. The functionality of GOS to support the establishment of IVS-1 in the gastrointestinal tract was then evaluated in rats administered the bacterial strain alone, the prebiotic alone, or the synbiotic combination. Strain-specific quantitative real-time PCR showed that the addition of GOS increased B. adolescentis IVS-1 abundance in the distal intestine by nearly 2 logs compared to rats receiving only the probiotic. Illumina 16S rRNA sequencing not only confirmed the increased establishment of IVS-1 in the intestine but also revealed that the strain was able to outcompete the resident Bifidobacterium population when provided with GOS. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that IVS can be used to successfully formulate a synergistic synbiotic that can substantially enhance the establishment and competitiveness of a putative probiotic strain in the gastrointestinal tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2455-2465
Number of pages11
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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