The metabolic footprint of Clostridia and Erysipelotrichia reveals their role in depleting sugar alcohols in the cecum

Connor R. Tiffany, Jee Yon Lee, Andrew W.L. Rogers, Erin E. Olsan, Pavel Morales, Franziska Faber, Andreas J. Bäumler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The catabolic activity of the microbiota contributes to health by aiding in nutrition, immune education, and niche protection against pathogens. However, the nutrients consumed by common taxa within the gut microbiota remain incompletely understood. Methods: Here we combined microbiota profiling with an un-targeted metabolomics approach to determine whether depletion of small metabolites in the cecum of mice correlated with the presence of specific bacterial taxa. Causality was investigated by engrafting germ-free or antibiotic-treated mice with complex or defined microbial communities. Results: We noted that a depletion of Clostridia and Erysipelotrichia from the gut microbiota triggered by antibiotic treatment was associated with an increase in the cecal concentration of sugar acids and sugar alcohols (polyols). Notably, when we inoculated germ-free mice with a defined microbial community of 14 Clostridia and 3 Erysipelotrichia isolates, we observed the inverse, with a marked decrease in the concentrations of sugar acids and polyols in cecal contents. The carbohydrate footprint produced by the defined microbial community was similar to that observed in gnotobiotic mice receiving a cecal microbiota transplant from conventional mice. Supplementation with sorbitol, a polyol used as artificial sweetener, increased cecal sorbitol concentrations in antibiotic-treated mice, which was abrogated after inoculation with a Clostridia isolate able to grow on sorbitol in vitro. Conclusions: We conclude that consumption of sugar alcohols by Clostridia and Erysipelotrichia species depletes these metabolites from the intestinal lumen during homeostasis. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number174
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Alcoholic sugars
  • Clostridia
  • Erysipelotrichia
  • Microbiota
  • Polyols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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