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Are human breast milk microbiome 'neutral'?
Date:9/2/2014

Human breast milk is considered the most ideal source of nutrition for infants and it should have played a critical role in the evolution and civilizations of human beings. Unlike our intuitive perception, human milk contains a large number of bacterial species, including some opportunistic pathogens of humans. This phenomenon comes as no surprise to scientists and physicians.

Indeed, the existence of milk microbiome is considered to be the result of co-evolutionary and co-adaptive interactions between the microbiome and human host. Furthermore, the dynamic balance in human milk microbiome ecosystem could be fundamental for suppressing the opportunistic pathogens in the breast milk. Nevertheless, until very recently, the ecological analysis of milk microbiome has been limited to assessment of bacterial diversity such as species richness and Shannon diversity index, which is necessary for understanding human milk microbiome but is far from sufficient for understanding the assembly and maintenance mechanism of the breast milk microbiota. The latter is not only interested in by theoretical community ecologists, but also of important clinical significance for understanding the health and disease implications of the breast milk. For example, mastitis is inflammation of the breast with or without infection, and Staphylococcus aureus has traditionally been believed to be the pathogen that is typically associated with infectious mastitis.

Ma et al (2014 submitted manuscript) recently postulated that the opportunistic pathogen such as Staphylococcus aureus, which has been confirmed to exist in the human milk microbiome, is normally suppressed by a network of beneficial bacteria coexisted in the breast milk microbiome, but may become source of infectious mastitis when the host environment permits. Therefore, the breast milk microbiome, similar to the microbiome in the other human body sites such as gut microbiome and perhaps the macrobiome in na
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Contact: Zhanshan Ma
samma@uidaho.edu
Science China Press
Source:Eurekalert

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