New publication in The ISME Journal: A green-diet sulfosugar is a select microbial nutrient and source of hydrogen sulfide in the human gut


Many functional properties of the human gut microbiome are still unknown. An international team of scientists around Buck, Dimitri, and Alex from DOME and David Schleheck from the University of Konstanz has now uncovered how gut bacteria utilize the sulfur-containing sugar sulfoquinovose. Sulfoquinovose is a sulfonic acid derivative of glucose and is present in algae and all green vegetables such as spinach and lettuce. Their study discovered that select bacteria of the core microbiota in the human cooperate in the utilization of sulfoquinovose and ultimately produce hydrogen sulfide. This gas – known for its rotten egg smell – has disparate effects on human health: at low concentrations, it has an anti-inflammatory effect, while increased amounts of hydrogen sulfide in the intestine, in turn, are associated with inflammation and cancer. Future studies by the research team will show if sulfoquinovose could be applied as a microbiome- and health-promoting prebiotic.