- Abdul Lateef Molan, Mary Ann Lila, John Mawson, Shampa De
The prebiotic effects of water extracts of two blueberry (BBE) cultivars (‘Centurion’ and ‘Maru’) were studied using pure and mixed cultures of human faecal bacteria. The results demonstrated for the first time that addition of BBE from both cultivars to broth media containing pure cultures of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium breve resulted in a significant increase (P < 0.05–0.0001) in the population size of these strains. Batch fermentation system was used to monitor the effect of BBE addition on the mixed faecal bacterial populations (obtained from healthy human donors). Addition of BBE from both cultivars to batch cultures inoculated with mixed human faecal cultures resulted in a significant increase in the number of lactobacilli (P < 0.01–0.0001) and bifidobacteria (P < 0.05–0.0001). Furthermore, a significant influence on the population size of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria was observed after administration of extracts from both cultivars to rats daily for 6 days in comparison with the control group. In rats gavaged orally with 4 ml kg−1 day−1 of BBE for 6 days, the population size of lactobacilli (P < 0.05) and bifidobacteria (P < 0.05–0.01) was increased significantly. We hypothesize that BBE could modify the bacterial profile by increasing the numbers of beneficial bacteria and thereby improving gut health.