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Meconial Methanobrevibacter smithii suggests intrauterine methanogen colonization in preterm neonate

To understand the dynamics of methanogens in the human intestinal #microbiota, we investigated the presence of methanogens in meconium using a polyphasic approach including microscopy and PCR-sequencing in 33 meconium samples collected from 33 pre-term neonates, in accordance with current ethics regulation. In the presence of negative controls, 90.9% samples were real-time PCR-positive for methanogens and 69.7 % were PCR-sequencing positive, identified as Methanobrevibacter (M.) smithii. Further, auto-fluorescent analysis detected methanogens in the two meconium samples analyzed, with a morphology suggesting M. smithii. Multispacer Sequence Typing found M. smithii genotypes ST1 and ST2, previously described as intestinal microbiota inhabitants. C-section delivery and non-use of peripartum antibiotics significantly correlated with PCR-detection of methanogens in meconium. These data position M. smithii among the early inhabitants of the human gut, detectable immediately after birth and suggest the contribution of methanogens to the perinatal development of intestinal microbiota and physiology.

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