Microbiome from Maternal Body Sites Helps to Develop Infants Gut Microbiome

Background

Microbial colonization in infants gut influences human physiology, including the maturation of the immune system, nutrient absorption and metabolism, and the protection against pathogen colonization (Buffie and Pamer, 2013). Several factors including the mode of delivery (Dominguez-Bello et al., 2010, 2016), gestational age at birth (La Rosa et al., 2014),  maternal and infant antibiotic usage (Lemas et al., 2016) and feeding method (formula or breastfeeding) (Backhed et al., 2015) are very important to the early development of the infant microbiome. Wider environmental exposure (H. Shin et al., 2015) and early intimate relations, particularly with the mother, also play a key role in the early microbial development of an infant. Microbiomes are responsible for different diseases of infants like asthma, diabetes, obesity etc (Nagpal et al. 2018). While the importance of the host-microbiome interplay is not in question, the mechanisms by which an infant acquires these microbes, and from what source, remain largely unexplored. Just a few months ago, a study demonstrated that the maternal microbiome is an important source in the early development of microbial species and strains in the infant gut (Korpela et al., 2018). Yet there has been no comprehensive assessment of the multiple potential maternal sources (like skin, breast milk, fecal, vaginal, oral ect.) of microbial transmission, and how ultimately they contribute to the development of the infant microbiome within hours of birth and over the first few months of life. Continue reading “Microbiome from Maternal Body Sites Helps to Develop Infants Gut Microbiome”

Moms and Microbiomes: Making the Breast(feeding) Decision

Background

Parents want to know the best ways to protect and maintain their child’s health. Most parents have strong opinions about the best way to ensure their child stays healthy. The decision to breastfeed or use formula is just one example of a highly controversial parenting choice in recent years. Another very contested issue is the maternal diet during pregnancy, which has been found to have lasting impacts on the child’s health. Continue reading “Moms and Microbiomes: Making the Breast(feeding) Decision”

For the microbiomes of our future

Picture of a baby with bacteria visualized on it.
University of Utah (Learn Genetics)

The vaginal microbiome: We live in a world of microbes, and yet we are still learning new things about these millions of ‘germs’ every day and how they influence us, but what about our children? New research suggests a mother’s stress during pregnancy could be another puzzle piece in the development of baby’s microbiome and brain. According to the CDC nearly 4 million children were born in the United States in 2016, which resulted in mothers giving their offspring microbes, whether the baby was born through c-section or vaginally. Recent research (Rutayisire et al., 2016) is starting to show that there may be an advantage to birthing vaginally, as young are exposed to their mother’s microbiome. Continue reading “For the microbiomes of our future”

How Does Your Microbe Community Change During Pregnancy?

Background

The vaginal microbiota undergoes major compositional changes throughout a women’s lifespan from birth, to puberty, to menopause. However, very little is known about the composition of the vaginal microbiota throughout these transitional stages (Romero 2014). So if the microbial community of the vagina changes throughout a women’s life, how does pregnancy change it, if it does at all? Continue reading “How Does Your Microbe Community Change During Pregnancy?”

Jumping Genes and the Evolution of Pregnancy

The human genome is made up of over three billion base pairs, the building blocks of DNA, but only a small part of that is actually protein coding DNA. Transposable elements (TEs) are a type of non-coding DNA that makes up approximately half of the human genome, and since their discovery in the 1940s, they have carried a bad reputation. Often referred to as junk DNA or parasitic genes, TEs are a type of mobile genetic element capable of moving around or “jumping” within the genome. There are two main types of TEs: retrotransposons, which copy themselves and then reinsert the copies back into the genome and DNA transposons, which cut themselves out of the genome and move to a different site (Figure 1). When TEs move around, they sometimes land in the middle of a gene or even another TE, which is often detrimental to the function of that gene or TE. The function and potential benefits of TEs have not always been clear, but research has slowly started to unravel their mysteries. A group of scientists at Yale, lead by Gunter Wagner, recently found that TEs may have been responsible for the evolution of pregnancy in mammals.

Figure 1 : DNA transposon (1), and retrotransposon (2). Image from Broad Institute

Continue reading “Jumping Genes and the Evolution of Pregnancy”