Rowett Seminar

Rowett Seminar

This is a past event

Sabina Leanti La Rosa, Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, on A mechanistic view of complex carbohydrate utilization by gut microbiomes.

A mechanistic view of complex carbohydrate utilization by gut microbiomes.


The community of microbes inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract includes a large variety of bacterial species that collectively influence numerous aspects of host health and nutrition. Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes phyla are typically dominant, with specific symbiotic members supplying an arsenal of carbohydrate-active enzymes for the depolymerization and fermentation of otherwise indigestible complex carbohydrates to short-chain fatty acids. This talk will present some of our recent research, which utilizes methodological toolsets that combine traditional culturing, meta-omics (including next-generation sequencing and functional multi-omics), biochemistry and enzymology, to fully elucidate enzymatic pathways that microbial populations employ for the utilization of nutrients consumed by the host. This includes typical hemicellulosic polysaccharides, such as β-mannans, and atypical glycans such as the food additive xanthan gum. In particular, coupling of detailed knowledge of microbial saccharolytic mechanisms to unique structural features of β-mannans has allowed us to design intervention strategies to selectively engage beneficial microbes at genera/strain level. Additional application of multi-omics has enabled visualization of the impact of β-mannans on the gut microbiota composition and functions, unveiling interactions between key players in degradation of this fiber directly in complex endogenous animal microbiomes and elucidating mechanisms by which these microorganisms affect host biology. We demonstrate that a multi-faceted approach is needed for deciphering and implementing efforts to enhance host health and minimize disease by manipulating gut microbial composition and metabolism.

Sabina Leanti La Rosa
Hosted by
Dr Sylvia Duncan and Dr Alan Walker
The Rowett Institute

Staff and students only