Strain-Level Analysis of Mother-to-Child Bacterial Transmission during the First Few Months of Life

Moran Yassour*, Eeva Jason, Larson J. Hogstrom, Timothy D. Arthur, Surya Tripathi, Heli Siljander, Jenni Selvenius, Sami Oikarinen, Heikki Hyöty, Suvi M. Virtanen, Jorma Ilonen, Pamela Ferretti, Edoardo Pasolli, Adrian Tett, Francesco Asnicar, Nicola Segata, Hera Vlamakis, Eric S. Lander, Curtis Huttenhower, Mikael KnipRamnik J. Xavier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


Bacterial community acquisition in the infant gut impacts immune education and disease susceptibility. We compared bacterial strains across and within families in a prospective birth cohort of 44 infants and their mothers, sampled longitudinally in the first months of each child's life. We identified mother-to-child bacterial transmission events and describe the incidence of family-specific antibiotic resistance genes. We observed two inheritance patterns across multiple species, where often the mother's dominant strain is transmitted to the child, but occasionally her secondary strains colonize the infant gut. In families where the secondary strain of B. uniformis was inherited, a starch utilization gene cluster that was absent in the mother's dominant strain was identified in the child, suggesting the selective advantage of a mother's secondary strain in the infant gut. Our findings reveal mother-to-child bacterial transmission events at high resolution and give insights into early colonization of the infant gut. Using longitudinal metagenomic sequencing from 44 mother/child pairs, Yassour et al. characterized mother-to-child strain transmission patterns. While mothers' dominant strains were often inherited, nondominant secondary strain transmissions were also observed. Microbial functional analysis reveals that inherited maternal secondary strains may have a selective advantage to colonize infant guts.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)146-154.e4
JournalCell Host and Microbe
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Jul 2018

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© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


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