is study included spots representing nearly all bacteria known to be involved in human microbial ecosystems. The researchers included spots that would recognize whole families of bacteria so that they wouldn't be limited to the 80,000 or so known species.
The researchers had the parents collect stool samples from the babies according to a prescribed schedule, beginning with the first stool produced after birth. There were additional samples around key events, such as starting on solid food and taking antibiotics.
Postdoctoral scholar Elisabeth Bik, PhD, and research fellow Daniel DiGiulio, MD, in Relman's lab, were involved in processing and analyzing more than 500 samples in this study.
The team emphasized that the goal of this study was to provide the foundation for the range of what occurs in healthy babies born to healthy mothers. Based on this, future studies may find new species of bacteria, and also separate the role that genetics plays compared with life history and identify new roles of microbes in human health.
Other factors for future inquiry include looking at breast-fed babies compared to those who are formula-fed, and comparing premature babies to full-term ones. All the babies in this study were full-term and breast-fed.
"This study raises so many interesting questions, and it's a wonderful segue into the next phase," said Relman.
This work was supported by funding from the Horn Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Brown is an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
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