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The gut microbiota follows a circadian rhythm

• Bacterial rhythmicity is present in the infant gut & increases with age.

#circadian control of bacterial rhythms is confirmed ex vivo in continuous cultures.


#microbiota assembly in the infant gut is influenced by diet. Breastfeeding and human breastmilk oligosaccharides promote the colonization of beneficial bifidobacteria. Infant formulas are supplemented with bifidobacteria or complex oligosaccharides, notably galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), to mimic breast milk. To compare microbiota development across feeding modes, this randomized controlled intervention study (German Clinical Trial DRKS00012313) longitudinally sampled infant stool during the first year of life, revealing similar fecal bacterial communities between formula- and breast-fed infants (N = 210) but differences across age. Infant formula containing GOS sustained high levels of bifidobacteria compared with formula containing B. longum and B. breve or placebo. Metabolite and bacterial profiling revealed 24-h oscillations and circadian networks. Rhythmicity in bacterial diversity, specific taxa, and functional pathways increased with age and was strongest following breastfeeding and GOS supplementation. Circadian rhythms in dominant taxa were further maintained ex vivo in a chemostat model. Hence, microbiota rhythmicity develops early in life and is impacted by diet.

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