Scope: Understanding the biological functions of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) in shaping gastrointestinal (GI) tract microbiota during infancy is of great interest. A link between HMOs in maternal milk and infant fecal microbiota composition is examined and the role of microbiota in degrading HMOs within the GI tract of healthy, breastfed, 1-month-old infants is investigated. Methods and results: Maternal breast milk and infant feces are from the KOALA Birth Cohort. HMOs are quantified in milk and infant fecal samples using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Fecal microbiota composition is characterized using Illumina HiSeq 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The composition is associated with gender, delivery mode, and milk HMOs: Lacto-N-fucopentaose I and 2′-fucosyllactose. Overall, Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides, Escherichia–Shigella, and Parabacteroides are predominating genera. Three different patterns in infant fecal microbiota structure are detected. GI degradation of HMOs is strongly associated with fecal microbiota composition, and there is a link between utilization of specific HMOs and relative abundance of various phylotypes (operational taxonomic units). Conclusions: HMOs in maternal milk are among the important factors shaping GI tract microbiota in 1-month-old breastfed infants. An infant's ability to metabolize different HMOs strongly correlates with fecal microbiota composition and specifically with phylotypes within genera Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides, and Lactobacillus.
- human milk oligosaccharide
- microbial clusters