Studies on the effect of system retention time on bacterial populations colonizing a three-stage continuous culture model of the human large gut using FISH techniques

Matthew W Child, Aileen Kennedy, Alan W Walker, Bahram Bahrami, Sandra Macfarlane, George T Macfarlane

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Fluorescence in situ hybridization was used to quantitate bacteria growing in a three-stage continuous culture system inoculated with human faeces, operated at two system retention times (60 and 20 h). Twenty-three different 16S rRNA gene oligonucleotide probes of varying specificities were used to detect bacteria. Organisms belonging to genera Bacteroides and Bifidobacterium, together with the Eubacterium rectale/Clostridium coccoides group, the Atopobium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Eubacterium cylindroides groups, as well as the segmented filamentous bacteria, the Roseburia intestinalis group and lactic acid bacteria, were all present in high numbers in the continuous culture system. Other groups and species such as Ruminococci and Enterobacteria also persisted in the model, though not always at levels that allowed reliable quantitation. Some organisms such as Streptococci and Corynebacteria, present in the faecal inoculum, did not colonize the system. Other probes specific for Eubacterium lentum and for members of the genus Desulfovibrio did not detect these organisms at any time. Short chain fatty acid production was always highest in vessel I of the continuous culture system, however, a marked increase in acetate formation and a reduction in butyrate production occurred when system retention time was reduced to 20 h, which correlated with reductions in the numbers of butyrate-producing Roseburia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-310
Number of pages12
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006



  • Acetates
  • Bacteria
  • Butyrates
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Fatty Acids
  • Feces
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Intestine, Large
  • Models, Biological
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

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