High-Level Acquisition of Maternal Oral Bacteria in Formula-Fed Infant Oral Microbiota

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The influx of maternal oral microbes is considered to play an important role in the acquisition and development of infant oral microbiota. In this study, we examined tongue swab samples from 448 mother-infant pairs at 4-month checkups. The bacterial composition of each sample was determined using PacBio single-molecule long-read sequencing of the full-length 16S rRNA gene and the amplicon sequence variant (ASV) approach. Although the infant oral microbiota was distinctly different from the mother oral microbiota, ASVs shared with their biological mother accounted for a median relative abundance of 9.7% (range of 0.0 to 99.3%), which was significantly higher than that of ASVs shared with unrelated mothers. This shared abundance was strongly associated with the feeding method of infants rather than their delivery mode or antibiotic exposure, and formula-fed infants had higher shared abundance than exclusively breastfed infants. Our study presents strain-level evidence for mother-to-infant transmission of oral bacteria and suggests that colonization of maternal oral bacteria is higher in formula-fed infants. IMPORTANCE Acquisition of oral bacteria during infancy can affect the subsequent formation of stable oral microbiota. This study focused on the mother-to-infant transmission of oral bacteria, a major acquisition route of infant oral microbiota, and demonstrated that most infants acquired oral bacteria from their biological mother even at the single-nucleotide level. Our results also indicated that the occupancies of maternal oral bacteria in infant oral microbiota were associated with the feeding methods of infants. These data could increase understanding of the early development of oral microbiota in infants and its potential associations with oral microbiota-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03452
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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