Bacteria Gene Transfer from mother to child (Aug 2013)

Bacteria Gene Transfer and natural selection from mother to child – a new way of selection?

When a child is born, it’s gut gets the flora of the mother. I suggest this is a gene transfer from mother to child – but not directly, but through bacteria gene transfer.

Could there be natural selection on this means of gene transfer? Is this outside of the genome, genes? Does what the mother eat, or her health, under one birth so different from another birth, that one child has a better gut flora?

There are a lot of questions here. Do we have a new source of mutation? evolution? etc.?

Grandmother passes her gut biota to Mother that passes it to her daughter – etc. A sort of female transfer of bacteria genes?

Could this be a gene transfer, not of human genes, but of symbiotic gut bacteria genes passed from human mother to child (and from daughter to her child).

Note too that this genome transfer from gut to gut, doesn’t have to be incorporated into the human genome – that’s the challenging discovery here – they have a gut line through females.

This goes further – and becomes somewhat Landmarkian in that the bacterial pop changes during life. Not a longer neck on that giraffe, but a better gut biota on the mom!!! Then too this would apply to a wide range of animals.


Here’s some background from wikipedia “Gut Flora:

Acquisition of gut flora in human infants[edit]

The gastrointestinal tract of a normal fetus is sterile. During birth and rapidly thereafter, bacteria from the mother and the surrounding environment colonize the infant’s gut. Immediately after vaginal delivery, babies may have bacterial strains derived from the mothers’ feces in the upper gastrointestinal tract.[21] … After birth, environmental, oral and cutaneous bacteria are readily transferred from the mother to the infant through suckling, kissing, and caressing. All infants are initially colonized by large numbers of E. coli and streptococci. Within a few days, bacterial numbers reach 108 to 1010 per gram of feces.[22][24] During the first week of life, these bacteria create a reducing environment favorable for the subsequent bacterial succession of strict anaerobic species mainly belonging to the genera Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides, Clostridium, and Ruminococcus.[25] …
The major factors that influence the colonization of gut flora in the infant include the status of the mother’s gut flora (as this will be passed to the infant), the method of delivery, type of feeding, and antibiotic use. There are also other factors that play a role, including the infant’s overall environment, hygiene, and perinatal stress. The colonization of the gut flora at the beginning of life is significant because the gut flora impacts the development of the immune system, has a major role in immune system functioning (80-85% of the immune system is in the gut), and thereby influences the process by which autoimmune and metabolic disease occurs. Disease begins in the gut and it starts at the very beginning of life!
In the unborn child, it was once believed that the gut was sterile. However, recent research suggests that colonization of the gut begins when the unborn child swallows amniotic fluid containing microbes from the mother’s gut. The majority of the colonization of the gut occurs during the birthing process when the infant is further exposed to a large amount of bacteria from the mother. If the mother’s flora is damaged or imbalanced, this will be passed on to the infant. …
The feeding method, or diet, of an infant also influences the gut flora by providing a source of nutrition that allows for the growth and function of flora and providing a source of continued colonization of microorganisms from the environment. For babies that are breastfed, bacteria from the feeding environment will be transferred from the mother’s skin and milk ducts. For those that are bottle-fed, bacteria will be transferred from the dried powder and the equipment and water used to prepare the formula. Breastfed newborns carry a more stable and uniform population of gut flora compared to bottle-fed infants…. One of the main reasons behind why breastfeeding is so health-promoting is because of its effects on the gut flora…. The type of infant feeding is critical in influencing the composition of the gut flora, thereby affecting development of the immune system and long-term health.
This article seems to fit: Breastfeeding linked to healthy Infant Gut: Bacterial Colonization Leads to Changes in the Infant’s Expression of Genes.


More support – this from Scientific American article “You Inner Ecosystem.”


the number of genes distributed among the friendly bacteria that live inside people’s bodes and on their skin far outnumbers the number of genes we inherit from our parents.
Humans 20-25 thousand genes. Gut microbiome 3.3 million genes.

Some of these bacteria possess genes that encode for beneficial compounds hat the body cannot make on its own. Other bacteria seem to train the body not to overreact to outside threats.



This study looks at gut microbes in premature infants and finds lots of surprises – the same pattern of colonization seems to follow the age of the infant with 3 main bacteria. Further that antibiotics, etc don’t seem to matter that much



This study looks at wasps and gut biome:

A new study, published online on July 18 by the journal Science, has provided direct evidence that these (gut) microbes can contribute to the origin of new species by reducing the viability of hybrids produced between males and females of different species.


This article suggests support. Title:  Could gut microbes help treat brain disorders? Mounting research tightens their connection with the brain

Quote:  “So, if mom’s microbial ecosystem changes — due to infection, stress or diet, for example — her newborn’s gut microbiome will change too, and that can have a lifetime effect.”


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