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The intestinal protist Blastocystis is not a common member of the healthy infant gut microbiota in a Westernized country (Ireland)

  • P. D. Scanlan (a1) (a2) (a3), C. J. Hill (a2) (a3), R. P. Ross (a2), C. A. Ryan (a2), C. Stanton (a1) (a2) and P. D. Cotter (a1) (a2)...

Abstract

Research into the gut microbiota of human infants is necessary in order to better understand how inter-species interactions and ecological succession shape the diversity of the gut microbiota, and in turn, how the specific composition of the gut microbiota impacts on host health both during infancy and in later years. Blastocystis is a ubiquitous intestinal protist that has been linked to a number of intestinal and extra-intestinal diseases. However, emerging data show that asymptomatic carriage is common and that Blastocystis is prevalent in the healthy adult gut microbiota. Nonetheless, little is known about the prevalence and diversity of this microorganism in the healthy infant gut, including when and how individuals become colonized by Blastocystis. Here, we surveyed the prevalence and diversity of Blastocystis in an infant population (n = 59) from an industrialized country (Ireland) using Blastocystis-specific primers at three or more time-points up to 24 months old. Only three infants were positive for Blastocystis (prevalence = 5%) and this was only noted for samples collected at month 24. This rate is comparatively low relative to previously reported prevalence rates in the contemporaneous adult population. These data suggest that infants in Westernized countries that are successfully colonized by Blastocystis most likely acquire this microorganism via horizontal transfer.

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Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Pauline Scanlan, E-mail: p.scanlan@ucc.ie or paulinescanlan@yahoo.co.uk

References

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