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Title: Lowbush blueberries, vaccinium angustifolium, modulate the functional potential of nutrient utilization and DNA maintenance mechanisms in the rat proximal colon microbiota

item LACOMBE, ALISON - University Of Maine
item Li, Robert
item KLIMIS-ZACASA, DOROTHY - University Of Maine
item KRISTOA, ALEKSANDRA - University Of Maine
item TADEPALLIA, SHRAVANI - University Of Maine
item KRAUSSA, EMILY - University Of Maine
item YOUNG, RYAN - University Of Maine
item WU, VIVIAN - University Of Maine

Submitted to: Functional Foods in Health and Disease
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/14/2012
Publication Date: 6/18/2012
Citation: Lacombe, A., Li, R.W., Klimis-Zacasa, D., Kristoa, A.S., Tadepallia, S., Kraussa, E., Young, R., Wu, V.C. 2012. Lowbush blueberries, vaccinium angustifolium, modulate the functional potential of nutrient utilization and DNA maintenance mechanisms in the rat proximal colon microbiota. Functional Foods in Health and Disease. 2(6):228-241.

Interpretive Summary: The gut microbiota plays an essential role in nutrient production and utilization in animals. Understanding of microbial interactions in the gut microbial ecosystem provides a scientific basis for successful manipulation of gut microbial fermentation for optimal outcomes. Whilst host genetics influences the species composition, dietary factors also have an important impact, with specific bacterial groups changing in response to specific dietary interventions. Since bacterial species have different metabolic activities, specific diets have variable consequences for health, dependent on the effect exerted on the bacterial population. In this study, we identified significant changes in the abundance of lactobacillus in the colon microbiota of rats in response to blueberry enriched diets. Our findings should guide efforts in formulating optimal uses of probiotic bacteria in promoting human health.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this research is to study whether a diet enriched with wild blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium ) can aid in promoting a beneficial population of microbes in the gastrointestinal tract. Twelve, three-week-old, male Sprague Dawley rats were randomly assigned to two groups. The control group (N=6) was placed on standard chow diet and the treatment group was fed the same diet with 8% (w/w) wild blueberry powder substituting for the dextrose (N=6). The animals consumed the diets for 6 weeks after which they were sacrificed. Microbial load analysis, deep whole-genome shotgun sequencing and bioinformatics assessed the microbial community composition of the rat colon in response to the dietary changes. Our findings suggest that a wild blueberry-enriched diet induced a significant change in the microbial community composition in the rat colon. The alteration in the relative abundance of 3 phyla (~13% of all phyla present in the microbiota), 8 classes and 22 genera was detected representing approximately 14% and 8% of all classes and genera identified in the rat colon microbiota, respectively. The most significant reduction in the relative abundance detected from the blueberry-enriched dietary treatment was observed for the genera Lactobacilli and Enterococcus, respectively. The wild blueberry enriched diet had significantly higher abundances for novel genera under the family Bifidobacteriaceae and Chlorobiaceae, in addition to genus Slackia. Our data provide insight into the promotion of intestinal homeostasis by blueberry polyphenols, and can guide nutritionists to formulate optimal diets for increased microbiome biodiversity.