Divergent maturational patterns of the infant bacterial and fungal gut microbiome in the first year of life are associated with inter-kingdom community dynamics and infant nutrition

Abstract Background The gut microbiome undergoes primary ecological succession over the course of early life before achieving ecosystem stability around 3 years of age. These maturational patterns have been well-characterized for bacteria, but limited descriptions exist for other microbiota members, such as fungi. Further, our current understanding of the prevalence of different patterns of bacterial and fungal microbiome maturation and how inter-kingdom dynamics influence early-life microbiome establishment is limited. Results We examined individual shifts in bacterial and fungal alpha diversity from 3 to 12 months of age in 100 infants from the CHILD Cohort Study. We identified divergent patterns of gut bacterial or fungal microbiome maturation in over 40% of infants, which were characterized by differences in community composition, inter-kingdom dynamics, and microbe-derived metabolites in urine, suggestive of alterations in the timing of ecosystem transitions. Known microbiome-modifying factors, such as formula feeding and delivery by C-section, were associated with atypical bacterial, but not fungal, microbiome maturation patterns. Instead, fungal microbiome maturation was influenced by prenatal exposure to artificially sweetened beverages and the bacterial microbiome, emphasizing the importance of inter-kingdom dynamics in early-life colonization patterns. Conclusions These findings highlight the ecological and environmental factors underlying atypical patterns of microbiome maturation in infants, and the need to incorporate multi-kingdom and individual-level perspectives in microbiome research to improve our understandings of gut microbiome maturation patterns in early life and how they relate to host health. Video Abstract
Microbiome. 2024 Feb 07;12(1):22