Gut Bacteria Help Digest Red Wine | SimplyScience by Kristie Tanner


Hello Science Lovers! Today we’re going to talk about how bacteria from our gut are able to help us digest wine. Well… not exactly red wine. This video is about how a specific bacteria called bacteroides is able to break down a molecule called Rhamnogalacturonan-II which from now on I’m just going to call RG-II. And why is this so interesting? Well RG-II is a polysaccharide, which is a long chain of sugar molecules that can be found in fruits such as apples or the grapes that are used to make wine. But it’s not just any polysaccharide: from all the known polysaccharide this one is the one with the most complex structure. This molecule cannot be found accumulating as waste in the environment, which means that somehow some organism is able to break down the polysaccharide chains into individual sugar molecules. But before this research we had no idea of how this degradation was done or which organisms were able to perform it. Taking into account that RG-II is a molecule that is found in very high quantities in plants that humans have been feeding on for hundreds of thousands of years, the researchers thought that surely in the gut of these humans there must be some bacteria able to break down this compound. There was also another interesting question: would a single bacterial species be able to degrade this molecule or would it have to be an association of bacteria (a bacterial consortia) that would cooperate and together break down the molecule. The answer is: one single bacterium, Bacteroides, is able to break down 20 of the 21 link between the sugars that formed this polysaccharide. And this degradation involves new substrates of previously known enzymes and also enzymes that have never been discovered until now. Also they found out that this bacterium is able to break down different structural variations of the same polysaccharide. So for example the bacteria is able to break down RG-II from apples and RG-II from grapes even though the structure isn’t exactly the same. So keep in mind that the bacteria associated to our bodies, which by the way constitute two kilograms of our body weight, are not only useful in, for example preventing infection diseases, but they also help us with the digestion of our food. Thank you very much for watching, I hope you’ve enjoyed this video and as always I have left the links in the description and if you like this video you’re welcome to give me a thumbs up or subscribe to my channel. Thank you very much and I’ll see you next week!

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