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Nat Commun. 2016 Jun 24;7:11939. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11939.

A key genetic factor for fucosyllactose utilization affects infant gut microbiota development.

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Yakult Central Institute, 5-11 Izumi, Kunitachi-shi, Tokyo 186-8650, Japan.
Department of Biological Information, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1 Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan.
Teikyo University School of Medicine, 2-11-1 Kaga, Itabashi-Ku, Tokyo 117-8605, Japan.
Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1 Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan.
National Institute of Genetics, Center for Information Biology, Yata 1111, Mishima, Shizuoka 411-8540, Japan.


Recent studies have demonstrated that gut microbiota development influences infants' health and subsequent host physiology. However, the factors shaping the development of the microbiota remain poorly understood, and the mechanisms through which these factors affect gut metabolite profiles have not been extensively investigated. Here we analyse gut microbiota development of 27 infants during the first month of life. We find three distinct clusters that transition towards Bifidobacteriaceae-dominant microbiota. We observe considerable differences in human milk oligosaccharide utilization among infant bifidobacteria. Colonization of fucosyllactose (FL)-utilizing bifidobacteria is associated with altered metabolite profiles and microbiota compositions, which have been previously shown to affect infant health. Genome analysis of infants' bifidobacteria reveals an ABC transporter as a key genetic factor for FL utilization. Thus, the ability of bifidobacteria to utilize FL and the presence of FL in breast milk may affect the development of the gut microbiota in infants, and might ultimately have therapeutic implications.

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