Processing Has Differential Effects on Microbiota-Accessible Carbohydrates in Whole Grains during In Vitro Fermentation

Caroline Smith, Mallory J. Van Haute, Devin J. Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Whole grains are generally low in nondigestible carbohydrates that are available for fermentation by the gut microbiota, or microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MAC). However, there is potential to increase MAC in whole grains through food processing. Five processing methods: boiling, extrusion, sourdough bread, unleavened bread, and yeast bread, were applied to whole wheat flour and then subjected to in vitro digestion followed by fermentation using fecal microbiomes from 10 subjects. The microbiomes separated into 2 groups: those that showed high carbohydrate utilization (CU) and those that ex-hibited low CU. The former exhibited not only enhanced CU but also increased butyrate production (MAC, 31.1 ±1.1% versus 19.3 ±1.2%, P< 0.001; butyrate, 5.26 ± 0.26 mM versus 3.17 ± 0.27 mM, P< 0.001). Only the microbiomes in the high-CU group showed significant differences among processing methods: extru-sion and sourdough bread led to dichotomous results for MAC and short-chain fatty acid production, where extrusion resulted in high MAC but low butyrate production while sourdough bread resulted in low MAC but high butyrate pro-duction. Extrusion led to a noticeable decrease in α-diversity and some members of the families Ruminococcaceae and Lachnospiraceae, with increases in Acineto-bacter, Enterococcus, and Staphylococcaceae. This study demonstrated that only microbiomes that exhibited high CU responded to the effects of processing by showing significant differences among processing methods. In these micro-biomes, extrusion was able to increase accessibility of the cell wall polysaccha-rides but did not increase butyrate production. In contrast, sourdough bread led to high butyrate production by supporting important butyrate-producers in the families Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Lachnospiraceae
  • Ruminococcaceae
  • butyrate
  • dietary fiber
  • wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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