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

ture such as lakes, oceans, forests, must maintain their ecosystem (dynamic) balances to stay healthy. Revealing the mechanism of microbiome assembly, succession and maintenance should offer important insights for understanding the health and disease implications of the break milk microbiome.

A study conducted by a group of scientists led by the University of Idaho Professor Mark McGuire [Hunt et al. (2011)] provided the most comprehensive 16s-rRNA experimental survey of milk microbiome to date, which offers an ideal dataset for studying the above-mentioned mechanisms. By reanalyzing Hunt et al (2011) 16s-rRNA data set, Guan & Ma (2014), from the Computational Biology and Medical Ecology Lab of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, applied Hubbell's neutral theory and Taylor's power law from macroecology to understand how the milk bacteria diversity are maintained and distributed. The power law analysis demonstrated the non-random and heterogeneous natures of both bacterial population abundance and species abundance distributions in the breast milk microbiome. Furthermore, all milk bacterial communities failed to fit to Hubbell's neutral theory model, indicating the possibility of niche differentiation and the presence of dominant species in the breast milk microbiota.

These results, for the first time, revealed that the bacterial diversity and distributions in the human breast milk are maintained by possible niche differentiation, and confirmed the role of dominate species in maintaining milk microbial diversity. Furthermore, both the single-species population abundance (at population level) and species abundance distributions (at community level) in the breast milk microbiome are heterogeneous and non-random. Niche differentiation, heterogeneity and non-randomness properties are typical characteristics of many ecological communities in the nature. Hence, a take-home message from Guan & Ma (2014) study may be that humans should not only care and conserve the
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Contact: Zhanshan Ma
samma@uidaho.edu
Science China Press
Source:Eurekalert

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