Prebiotics: tools to manipulate the gut microbiome and metabolome

  • Fatima Enam
  • Thomas J. MansellEmail author
Food Biotechnology & Probiotics - Review


The human gut is an ecosystem comprising trillions of microbes interacting with the host. The composition of the microbiota and their interactions play roles in different biological processes and in the development of human diseases. Close relationships between dietary modifications, microbiota composition and health status have been established. This review focuses on prebiotics, or compounds which selectively encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria, their mechanisms of action and benefits to human hosts. We also review advances in synthesis technology for human milk oligosaccharides, part of one of the most well-characterized prebiotic–probiotic relationships. Current and future research in this area points to greater use of prebiotics as tools to manipulate the microbial and metabolic diversity of the gut for the benefit of human health.


Prebiotics Human milk oligosaccharides Gut microbiome 



Degree of polymerization


Human milk oligosaccharide








Short-chain fatty acid





This work was supported by the Iowa State University Startup Funds. F.E. was supported in part by the Manley Hoppe Professorship and T.J.M. by the Karen and Denny Vaughn Faculty Fellowship.


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© Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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