PhD Thesis Bifidobacteria Ecology of non-Human Primates: Characterization of Novel Species with Unexpected Functionalities for Probiotic Applications and a Co-Evolutionary Host-Microbe Analysis


Bifidobacterium spp. are known as probiotic strains and recently new features emphasize their importance for human health, as EPSs and folate production. The relationship between Bifidobacterium spp. and their hosts is unknown, but probably links to peculiarities in the bifidobacterial cell-wall structures or to bifidobacterial ability to metabolize substrates from the host diet. Recently, a richness and diversity of bifidobacteria was observed in Callithrix jacchus and Saguinus midas, introducing the existence of a storehouse in primate guts. Several techniques were developed to deepen the microbial diversity, mainly based on the PCR. The RFLP-PCR of 16S rRNA gene represents a fast tool to distinguish human or animal origin bifidobacteria, useful in “Microbial Source Tracking” and probiotic selection. The project aim was the exploration of the bifidobacterial occurrence and diversity in evolutionary primate hosts to improve the knowledge about bifidobacteria distribution in non-human primates, and to identify bifidobacteria with new probiotic features (EPSs and folate production). 17 subjects from Strepsirrhini, Eulemur macaco, Eulemur rubriventer, Hapalemur alaotrensis and Lemur catta, and from Simiiformes, the New World Monkeys Callithrix jaccus, Pithecia pithecia, Saguinus oedipus and Saguinus imperator, and the Old World Monkeys, Chlorocebo aethiops and Macaca Sylvanus, were studied. Strains tested for probiotics traits, acid and bile tolerance, revealed B. aesculapii, B. myosotis and B. spp. MRM_8.19 strains as the most resistance. The folate production on strains from ring-tailed lemur and common marmoset revealed autotrophy only in strains from common marmoset. The distribution of microbial communities in non-human primates from 8 babies of common marmosets, golden faced saki and Barbary macaques and 11 adults of ring-tail lemurs, black lemurs, red-bellied lemur, Alaotran bamboo lemur, Barbary macaques, grivet, cotton top-tamarin and emperor tamarin, was carried out using ARDRA and rep-PCR. Results revealed a richness in both abundance and diversity of Bifidobacterium in primates.

Paper Details


S. Michelini