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ISME J. 2010 Feb;4(2):151-8. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2009.96. Epub 2009 Aug 27.

Convergent temporal dynamics of the human infant gut microbiota.

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NOFIMA Mat, Norwegian Food Research Institute, As, Norway.


Temporal dynamics of the human gut microbiota is of fundamental importance for the development of proper gut function and maturation of the immune system. Here we present a description of infant gut ecological dynamics using a combination of nonlinear data modeling and simulations of the early infant gut colonization processes. Principal component analysis of infant microbiota 16S rRNA gene microarray data showed that the main directions of variation were defined by three phylum-specific probes targeting Bacteroides, Proteobacteria and Firmicutes. Nonlinear regression analysis identified several dynamic interactions between these three phyla. Simulations of the early phylum-level colonization process showed the relatively rapid establishment of an equilibrium community after an unstable initial phase. In general, varying the initial composition of phyla in the simulations had little bearing on the final equilibrium. The dynamic interaction model was found to maintain its predictive ability for Proteobacteria and Firmicutes well into the simulation, whereas Bacteroides densities tended to be underestimated, possibly due to host top-down selection for Bacteroides. In accordance with our model, initial perturbation of the microbiota by different mode of delivery (vaginal and C-section) did not affect the later phylum composition in the infants investigated. Considering the predictive ability and convergence of our phylum-level model, we now propose that deterministic bacterial-bacterial interactions are more important for shaping the human infant gut microbiota than previously anticipated.

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