Advertisement

Microbiome Influences

Researchers find that gender, education level, and breastfeeding can affect humans’ commensal microbial communities.

By | April 22, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, MATTOSAURUSThe human microbiome is essential to health, and its disruption can lead to disease. Now, using data from the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), which has sampled the microbial communities of 300 healthy people at 18 body sites and analyzed additional samples from the same individuals, Patrick Schloss and Tao Ding of the University of Michigan have found that specific life-history events—namely, gender, education, and whether a person was breastfed as an infant—affected the composition of the body’s microbiomes as an adult. They published their results last week (April 16) in Nature.

“If a certain community of bacteria is associated with a specific life history trait, it is not such a stretch to imagine that there may be microbiome communities associated with illnesses such as cancer,” Schloss told The Conversation. Of course, he added, such correlations do not necessarily point to the cause of the microbiome differences between individuals. “We really don’t have a good idea for what determines the type of community you’ll have at any given body site.”

Level of education, for example, could affect the microbial makeup of the vagina as a result of other factors, such as wealth and social status. “I think that it is impossible to tease out the individual effects of education, sexual behavior, vaginal hygiene behavior, ethnicity, and social status,” Janneke van de Wijgert at the University of Liverpool told The Conversation. Moreover, she noted, “the study population of a mere 300 was homogenous and healthy—young, white women and men from Houston and St. Louis—which likely means that much additional microbiome variation has been missed.”

Interestingly, by tracking microbiome makeup over the course of 18 months, the authors also found that the oral microbial community was the most labile, while those of the vagina and gut stayed relatively stable. Future research should aim to reveal changes over shorter time intervals, van de Wijgert said.

Advertisement
ASM
ASM

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

Avatar of: wctopp

wctopp

Posts: 61

April 22, 2014

Stable vaginal microbiology means all your non-caesarean kids will start off with the same gut microbiology.

 

August 12, 2014

Jef - I think you mean labile not liable.

Advertisement
BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences

Popular Now

  1. The Mycobiome
    Features The Mycobiome

    The largely overlooked resident fungal community plays a critical role in human health and disease.

  2. Antibody Alternatives
    Features Antibody Alternatives

    Nucleic acid aptamers and protein scaffolds could change the way researchers study biological processes and treat disease.

  3. Holding Their Ground
    Features Holding Their Ground

    To protect the global food supply, scientists want to understand—and enhance—plants’ natural resistance to pathogens.

  4. Circadian Clock and Aging
    Daily News Circadian Clock and Aging

    Whether a critical circadian clock gene is deleted before or after birth impacts the observed aging-related effects in mice.

Advertisement
Bertin Technologies
Bertin Technologies
Advertisement
Life Technologies