Bifidobacteria are common members of the gastro-intestinal microbiota of a broad range of animal hosts. Their successful adaptation to this particular niche is linked to their saccharolytic metabolism, which is supported by a wide range of glycosyl hydrolases. In the current study a large-scale gene-trait matching (GTM) effort was performed to explore glycan degradation capabilities in B. breve. By correlating the presence/absence of genes and associated genomic clusters with growth/no-growth patterns across a dataset of 20 Bifidobacterium breve strains and nearly 80 different potential growth substrates, we not only validated the approach for a number of previously characterized carbohydrate utilization clusters, but we were also able to discover novel genetic clusters linked to the metabolism of salicin and sucrose. Using GTM, genetic associations were also established for antibiotic resistance and exopolysaccharide production, thereby identifying (novel) bifidobacterial antibiotic resistance markers and showing that the GTM approach is applicable to a variety of phenotypes. Overall, the GTM findings clearly expand our knowledge on members of the B. breve species, in particular how their variable genetic features can be linked to specific phenotypes.
Journal: Scientific reports