Genus Bifidobacterium: taxonomy studies and gene expression analysis on folate pathway

Stenico, Verena (2014) Genus Bifidobacterium: taxonomy studies and gene expression analysis on folate pathway, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze e tecnologie agrarie, ambientali e alimentari, 26 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6604.
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Folates (vitamin B9) are essential water soluble vitamins, whose deficiency in humans may contribute to the onset of several diseases, such as anaemia, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurological problems as well as defects in embryonic development. Human and other mammals are unable to synthesize ex novo folate obtaining it from exogenous sources, via intestinal absorption. Recently the gut microbiota has been identified as an important source of folates and the selection and use of folate producing microorganisms represents an innovative strategy to increase human folate levels. The aim of this thesis was to gain a fundamental understanding of folate metabolism in Bifidobacterium adolescentis. The work was subdivided in three main phases, also aimed to solve different problems encountered working with Bifidobacterium strains. First, a new identification method (based on PCR-RFLP of hsp60 gene) was specifically developed to identify Bifidobacterium strains. Secondly, Bifidobacterium adolescentis biodiversity was explored in order to recognize representing strains of this species to be screened for their folate production ability. Results showed that this species is characterized by a wide variability and support the idea that a possible new taxonomic re-organization would be required. Finally B. adolescentis folate metabolism was studied using a double approach. A quantitative analysis of folate content was complemented by the examination of expression levels of genes involved in folate related pathways. For the normalization process, required to increase the robustness of the qRT-PCR analysis, an appropriate set of reference genes was tested using two different algorithms. Results demonstrate that B.adolescentis strains may represent an endogenous source of natural folate and they could be used to fortify fermented dairy products. This bio-fortification strategy presents many advantages for the consumer, providing native folate forms more bio-available, and not implicated in the discussed controversy concerning the safety of high intake of synthetic folic acid.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Stenico, Verena
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze agrarie
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Folate, Bifidobacterium, Bifidobacterium adolescentis, identification, intra-species variability, reference gene evaluation, gene expression studies, HPLC
Data di discussione
30 Aprile 2014

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