Delivery mode (natural vs. cesarean) and feeding type (breast vs. formula feeding) are relevant factors for neonatal gut colonization. Biomolecular methods have shown that the ecological structure of infant microbiota is more complex than previously proposed, suggesting a relevant presence of unculturable bacteria. It has also been postulated that among unculturable bacteria, hydrogenotrophic populations might play a key role in infant health. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), acetogens, and methanogenic archaea use hydrogenotrophic pathways within the human colon. However, to date, few studies have reported detection of hydrogenotrophic microorganisms in newborns, possibly because of limitations on available group-specific, culture-independent quantification procedures. In the present work, we analyzed 16 fecal samples of healthy babies aged 1–6 months by means of quantitative PCR (qPCR) targeting the 16S rRNA or metabolic functional genes and by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). qPCR data showed quantifiable levels of methanogens, SRB, and acetogens in all samples, indicat- ing that the relative abundances of these microbial groups were not affected by delivery mode (natural vs. caesarian). DGGE revealed a high prevalence of the Blautia genus within the acetogenic bacteria despite strong interindividual variability. Our preliminary results suggest that hydrogenotrophic microorganisms, which have been a neglected group to date, should be included in future ecological and metabolic studies evaluating the infant intestinal microbiota.
- gut microbiota
- quantitative PCR