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. Dr. Hutkins serves on the Board of Directors of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP).

Featured Publications
Savaiano DA, Hutkins RW. Yogurt, cultured fermented milk, and health: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2021 Apr 7;79(5):599-614. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuaa013. PMID: 32447398.

Marco ML, Sanders ME, Gänzle M, Arrieta MC, Cotter PD, De Vuyst L, Hill C, Holzapfel W, Lebeer S, Merenstein D, Reid G, Wolfe BE, Hutkins R. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on fermented foods. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 Mar;18(3):196-208. doi: 10.1038/s41575-020-00390-5. Epub 2021 Jan 4. PMID: 33398112; PMCID: PMC7925329.

Tamang JP, Cotter PD, Endo A, Han NS, Kort R, Liu SQ, Mayo B, Westerik N, Hutkins R. Fermented foods in a global age: East meets West. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2020 Jan;19(1):184-217. doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12520. Epub 2020 Jan 3. PMID: 33319517.

Marco ML, Hill C, Hutkins R, Slavin J, Tancredi DJ, Merenstein D, Sanders ME. Should There Be a Recommended Daily Intake of Microbes? J Nutr. 2020 Dec 10;150(12):3061-3067. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxaa323. PMID: 33269394; PMCID: PMC7726123.

Swanson KS, Gibson GR, Hutkins R, Reimer RA, Reid G, Verbeke K, Scott KP, Holscher HD, Azad MB, Delzenne NM, Sanders ME. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of synbiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Nov;17(11):687-701. doi: 10.1038/s41575-020-0344-2. Epub 2020 Aug 21. PMID: 32826966; PMCID: PMC7581511.

Kok CR, Gomez Quintero DF, Niyirora C, Rose D, Li A, Hutkins R. An In Vitro Enrichment Strategy for Formulating Synergistic Synbiotics. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2019 Aug 1;85(16):e01073-19. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01073-19. PMID: 31201276; PMCID: PMC6677857.

Rattanaprasert M, van Pijkeren JP, Ramer-Tait AE, Quintero M, Kok CR, Walter J, Hutkins RW. Genes Involved in Galactooligosaccharide Metabolism in Lactobacillus reuteri and Their Ecological Role in the Gastrointestinal Tract. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2019 Oct 30;85(22):e01788-19. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01788-19. PMID: 31519661; PMCID: PMC6821975.

Sanders ME, Merenstein D, Merrifield CA, Hutkins R. Probiotics for human use. Nutrition Bulletin. 2018; 43:212-25.

Rezac S, Kok CR, Heermann M, Hutkins R. Fermented Foods as a Dietary Source of Live Organisms. Front Microbiol. 2018 Aug 24;9:1785. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01785. PMID: 30197628; PMCID: PMC6117398.

Kok CR, Hutkins R. Yogurt and other fermented foods as sources of health-promoting bacteria. Nutr Rev. 2018 Dec 1;76(Suppl 1):4-15. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuy056. PMID: 30452699.

Krumbeck JA, Walter J, Hutkins RW. Synbiotics for Improved Human Health: Recent Developments, Challenges, and Opportunities. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2018 Mar 25;9:451-479. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-030117-012757. Epub 2018 Jan 18. PMID: 29350558.

Krumbeck JA, Rasmussen HE, Hutkins RW, Clarke J, Shawron K, Keshavarzian A, Walter J. Probiotic Bifidobacterium strains and galactooligosaccharides improve intestinal barrier function in obese adults but show no synergism when used together as synbiotics. Microbiome. 2018 Jun 28;6(1):121. doi: 10.1186/s40168-018-0494-4. PMID: 29954454; PMCID: PMC6022452.