Bovine Milk Oligosaccharides
Bovine Milk Oligosaccharides Project
All mammalian milks contain a surprisingly high concentration of complex sugars called oligosaccharides; surprising because they are indigestible to the mammals who consume them. Researchers have discovered that these oligosaccharides instead act as a food source for the intestinal microbiota that colonizes the gastrointestinal tract. Investigations in human milk have revealed the specific composition and structures of these compounds and established their function as a selective food source for specific beneficial bacterial species, including Bifidobacteria. In this project, Milk Bioactives Program researchers are investigating the oligosaccharides in bovine milk in order to determine the similarities and differences between human and bovine milk, and also among bovine breeds. The long-term goal is to determine the factors that influence bovine milk oligosaccharide composition and to discover commercially viable sources of these beneficial compounds so that they can be incorporated into foods that promote digestive health.