Cultivation-independent assessment of the bacterial diversity of breast milk among healthy women

R. Martin, G.H.J. Heilig, E.G. Zoetendal, E. Jimenez, L. Fernandez, H. Smidt, J.M. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

192 Citations (Scopus)


Breast milk has been shown to be an excellent and continuous source of commensal and potentially probiotic bacteria to the infant gut. Our aim was to evaluate the dominant bacteria existing in breast milk of healthy women and the potential role of transit through the vagina in the acquisition of breast milk microbiota using the 16S rRNA amplified gene approach. Samples of breast milk were aseptically collected, at day 7 after delivery, from five mothers whose neonates were born by vaginal delivery and from five others who had had their babies by programmed elective cesarean section. All mothers were healthy, had a full-term pregnancy and breastfed their infants. DNA extracted from biological samples was used as a template for PCR amplification of 16S rRNA gene sequences with universal bacterial primers; then the PCR products were analyzed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE); finally, clone libraries of 16S rRNA gene sequences from 4 mothers (2 from each group) were constructed. PCR DGGE patterns and clone libraries suggest that each woman had a specific bacterial pattern in her breast milk, and confirm, at the molecular level, that breast milk of healthy women is a source of commensal bacteria to the infant gut. They also reinforce recent molecular studies which have shown that lactic acid bacteria colonization is not significantly related to the delivery method.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-37
JournalResearch in Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • escherichia-coli strain
  • 16s ribosomal-rna
  • staphylococcus-aureus
  • commensal bacteria
  • infants
  • colonization
  • lactobacilli
  • microflora
  • transmission
  • communities


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