By the same authors

From the same journal

From the same journal

From the same journal

Human gut Bacteroidetes can utilize yeast mannan through a selfish mechanism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Published copy (DOI)


  • Fiona Cuskin
  • Elisabeth C Lowe
  • Max J Temple
  • Yanping Zhu
  • Elizabeth A Cameron
  • Nicholas A Pudlo
  • Nathan T Porter
  • Karthik Urs
  • Alan Cartmell
  • Artur Rogowski
  • Brian S Hamilton
  • Rui Chen
  • Thomas J Tolbert
  • Kathleen Piens
  • Debby Bracke
  • Wouter Vervecken
  • Zalihe Hakki
  • Gaetano Speciale
  • Jose L Munōz-Munōz
  • Andrew Day
  • Maria J Peña
  • Richard McLean
  • Alisdair B Boraston
  • Todd Atherly
  • Cherie J Ziemer
  • Spencer J Williams
  • D Wade Abbott
  • Eric C Martens
  • Harry J Gilbert


Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 22 Oct 2014
DateE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2015
DatePublished (current) - 8 Jan 2015
Issue number7533
Number of pages5
Pages (from-to)165-169
Early online date7/01/15
Original languageEnglish


Yeasts, which have been a component of the human diet for at least 7,000 years, possess an elaborate cell wall α-mannan. The influence of yeast mannan on the ecology of the human microbiota is unknown. Here we show that yeast α-mannan is a viable food source for the Gram-negative bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a dominant member of the microbiota. Detailed biochemical analysis and targeted gene disruption studies support a model whereby limited cleavage of α-mannan on the surface generates large oligosaccharides that are subsequently depolymerized to mannose by the action of periplasmic enzymes. Co-culturing studies showed that metabolism of yeast mannan by B. thetaiotaomicron presents a 'selfish' model for the catabolism of this difficult to breakdown polysaccharide. Genomic comparison with B. thetaiotaomicron in conjunction with cell culture studies show that a cohort of highly successful members of the microbiota has evolved to consume sterically-restricted yeast glycans, an adaptation that may reflect the incorporation of eukaryotic microorganisms into the human diet.

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