Robert Hutkins

Robert Hutkins portrait

The Hutkins Lab studies bacteria important in human health and in fermented foods. The lab is particularly interested in understanding how diet and dietary food components influence the bacteria that reside in the gastrointestinal tract. The main goal is to understand and predict how diet-induced shifts in the microbiota ultimately influence human and animal health. Specifically, the lab is focused on prebiotic fibers and how these food components are selectively metabolized by member of the microbiota. We have developed a novel strategy for combining prebiotic fibers with selected strains of probiotic bacteria to enhance establishment of those organisms in the gastrointestinal tract. We also conduct clinical studies to assess the effects of prebiotic and probiotic interventions on gut barrier functions and other health outcomes.

Featured Publications

Hutkins RW, Krumbeck JA, Bindels LB, Cani PD, Fahey G Jr, Goh YJ, Hamaker B, Martens EC, Mills DA, Rastal RA, Vaughan E, Sanders ME. Prebiotics: why definitions matter. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2016 Feb;37:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2015.09.001. Epub 2015, PMID: 26431716

Maldonado-Gómez MX, Martínez I, Bottacini F, O'Callaghan A, Ventura M, van Sinderen D, Hillmann B, Vangay P, Knights D, Hutkins RW, Walter J. Stable Engraftment of Bifidobacterium longum AH1206 in the Human Gut Depends on Individualized Features of the Resident Microbiome. Cell Host Microbe. 2016 Oct 12;20(4):515-526. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2016.09.001. Epub 2016 Sep 29. PMID: 27693307

Krumbeck JA, Maldonado-Gomez MX, Martínez I, Frese SA, Burkey TE, Rasineni K, Ramer-Tait AE, Harris EN, Hutkins RW, Walter J. In vivo selection to identify bacterial strains with enhanced ecological performance in synbiotic applications. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015 Apr;81(7):2455-65. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03903-14. Epub 2015 Jan 23. PMID: 25616794

Marco ML, Heeney D, Binda S, Cifelli CJ, Cotter PD, Foligné B, Gänzle M, Kort R, Pasin G, Pihlanto A, Smid EJ, Hutkins R. Health benefits of fermented foods: microbiota and beyond. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2017 Apr;44:94-102. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2016.11.010. Epub 2016 Dec 18. Review. PMID: 27998788

Gibson GR, Hutkins R, Sanders ME, Prescott SL, Reimer RA, Salminen SJ, Scott K, Stanton C, Swanson KS, Cani PD, Verbeke K, Reid G. Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Aug;14(8):491-502. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2017.75. Epub 2017 Jun 14.  Review. PMID: 28611480