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Longitudinal characterization of bifidobacterial abundance and diversity profile developed in Thai healthy infants

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The early bifidobacterial colonization and development of infant gut is considered crucial for the immediate and lifelong health of human host. This study longitudinally analyzed and characterized fecal bifidobacterial profiles in association with feeding regimens observed in six infants during 5 months after birth. The dominant fecal microbiota of bifidobacteria, lactobacilli/enterococci, clostridia, bacteroides and eubacteria were specifically enumerated using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) technique. Breastfeeding exhibited close association with the predomination of bifidobacteria with the highest relative abundance of 32–70% detected in both infants with exclusive breastfeeding. The nested PCR-DGGE technique revealed high diversity existing within a bifidobacterial species with multiple strain variants of B. bifidum, B. longum, B. breve and B. dentium continuously detected in feces of exclusively breast- and combination-fed infants over the period of 5 months. Contrarily, B. breve, B. adolescentis, B. dentium, B. bifidum, B. faecale, B. kashiwanohense and B. lactis detected in all exclusively formula-fed infants seem to be transient species. The persisting strains seem to derive primarily from maternal breastmilk as demonstrated by PCR-DGGE profiles of human milk and feces from three mother-infant pairs. The results suggested the pivotal role of breastfeeding regimen in supporting colonization and succession of bifidobacteria in infant gut.

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This work was financially supported by Graduate School, Prince of Songkla University and the Office of the Higher Education Commission under the Strategic Scholarships for Frontier Research Networks (Specific for Southern region) for the Joint Ph.D. Program Thai Doctoral Degree Scholarship (CHE-SSR-Ph.D SW # 03–2553 awarded to Khanitta Kongnum under supervision of Associate Prof. Tipparat Hongapttarakere, Ph.D.).

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Correspondence to Tipparat Hongpattarakere.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The protocol of this study was reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee of Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University (EC Numbers: 55-244-19-2-3 and 55-243-19-2-3). All infant’s parents provided verbal informed consent on behalf of the participating babies. The verbal consent was granted by the Ethics Committee because this research presented minimum risks to the participants. In addition, they were not identifiable from the data collected. Infants’ parents directly rung and handed the researcher to pick up the samples right after defecation or before breastfeeding (< 1 h) to prevent the samples from oxygen exposure for too long period.

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Communicated by Erko Stackebrandt.

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Kongnum, K., Taweerodjanakarn, S. & Hongpattarakere, T. Longitudinal characterization of bifidobacterial abundance and diversity profile developed in Thai healthy infants. Arch Microbiol 202, 1425–1438 (2020).

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