Butyrate producing colonic Clostridiales metabolise human milk oligosaccharides and cross feed on mucin via conserved pathways

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The early life human gut microbiota exerts life-long health effects on the host, but the mechanisms underpinning its assembly remain elusive. Particularly, the early colonization of Clostridiales from the Roseburia-Eubacterium group, associated with protection from colorectal cancer, immune- and metabolic disorders is enigmatic. Here, we describe catabolic pathways that support the growth of Roseburia and Eubacterium members on distinct human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). The HMO pathways, which include enzymes with a previously unknown structural fold and specificity, were upregulated together with additional glycan-utilization loci during growth on selected HMOs and in co-cultures with Akkermansia muciniphila on mucin, suggesting an additional role in enabling cross-feeding and access to mucin O-glycans. Analyses of 4599 Roseburia genomes underscored the preponderance and diversity of the HMO utilization loci within the genus. The catabolism of HMOs by butyrate-producing Clostridiales may contribute to the competitiveness of this group during the weaning-triggered maturation of the microbiota.


  • Michael Jakob Pichler
  • Chihaya Yamada
  • Bashar Shuoker
  • Camila Alvarez-Silva
  • Aina Gotoh
  • Maria Louise Leth
  • Erwin Schoof
  • Toshihiko Katoh
  • Mikiyasu Sakanaka
  • Takane Katayama
  • Chunsheng Jin
  • Niclas G. Karlsson
  • Manimozhiyan Arumugam
  • Shinya Fushinobu
  • Maher Abou Hachem
External organisations
  • Technical University of Denmark
  • University of Tokyo
  • University of Copenhagen
  • Kyoto University
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Article number3285
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes