About this Research Topic
The microbial communities within the animal gastrointestinal tract (GIT), termed the gut microbiota, are keycontributors to host metabolism physiology and health. Alterations in composition and function of the gut microbiota have been associated with several human gastrointestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, necrotizing enterocolitis and colorectal cancer. Bifidobacteria are symbionts of the mammalian, avian or insect GIT. In humans, they are among the most abundant colonizers of the GIT of healthy infants and persist throughout adulthood at lower relative abundance with a further reduction in the elderly. Bifidobacteria are believed to exert health-promoting or probiotic effects on their host. These benefits include the protection against pathogens, modulation of the host immune system, mitigation of lactose intolerance, the ability to lower serum cholesterol levels in humans and provision of nutrients and vitamins among others. Due to their health-promoting properties, bifidobacteria have been incorporated into many functional foods as active ingredients since they are generally recognized as safe organisms.
The complex interactions between the host and bifidobacteria (and their metabolites) play a key role in health and disease. Discovery and characterisation of these bifidobacteria-host interactions present exciting opportunities to address disease by modulating the structure and function of the intestinal microbiota population. Therefore, the use of bifidobacteria as probiotics in functional foods or the use of substrates (i.e. prebiotics) that promote the growth of bifidobacteria in the gut, are the basis of dietetic interventions. Knowledge on and applications of bifidobacteria have advanced very significantly in recent years, contributing directly to the WHO Sustainable Development Goal no 3, ‘Good Health and Well-being’. Despite these advances, mechanistic understanding behind bifidobacterial health benefits, including molecular players that facilitate bifidobacterial gut colonization and persistence, is far from complete.
Nonetheless, comparative and functional genomics analyses have afforded insights into probiotic features and gut adaptation of bifidobacteria. To continue and expand such discoveries and exploit associated applications, it is necessary to intensify the exploration of the role of bifidobacteria in human/animal health at functional level through embracing various ‘omics’ approaches in combination with novel/existing molecular tools, technologies and models.
This Research Topic is focused on the applications of bifidobacteria, their metabolites and enzymes to improve human and animal health. We welcome submissions of all article types to address the following aspects (among others):
- Bifidobacteria-Host interactions
- Role of bifidobacteria in health and disease
- Role of bifidobacteria in gut development and homeostasis
- Comparative and functional genomics of bifidobacteria
- Molecular tools for bifidobacteria/ Biotechnology of bifidobacteria
- Bifidobacteria and functional foods: probiotics and prebiotics
- Biotechnological applications of bifidobacteria/ Commercial exploitation of bifidobacteria
Keywords: Bifidobacteria, biotechnology, probiotics, prebiotics, gut microbiome
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