The human gut microbiota during the initial stages of life: insights from bifidobacteria
Establishment of host–microbe interactions has facilitated co-evolution between the host and its resident intestinal microbiota. These mutualistic relationships are particularly important for developmental processes of the host during early life.
Members of the infant gut microbiota establish microbe-microbe interactions such as syntrophy or cross-feeding behavior. Bifidobacteria are key members of the infant gut microbiota that possess adaptative traits suited to the intestinal ecological niche.
Host-microorganism interactions are mediated by a variety of molecular mechanisms that benefit both. Current scientific literature has identified the infant gut microbiota as a multifaceted organ influencing a range of aspects of host-health and development.
Many scientific studies have focused on characterizing the main microbial taxa that constitute the resident bacterial population of the infant gut. This has generated a wealth of information on the bacterial composition of the infant gut microbiota, and on the functional role/s exerted by their key microbial members.
In this context, one of the most prevalent, abundant and investigated microbial taxon in the human infant gut is the genus Bifidobacterium, due to the purported beneficial activities is bestows upon its host.
This review discusses the most recent findings regarding the infant gut microbiota with a particular focus on the molecular mechanisms by which bifidobacteria impact on host health and well-being.