Composition and stability of intestinal microbiota of healthy children within a Dutch population

Tim G. J. de Meij, Andries E. Budding, Evelien F. J. de Groot, Fenna M. Jansen, C. M. Frank Kneepkens, Marc A. Benninga, John Penders, Adriaan A. van Bodegraven, Paul H. M. Savelkoul

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Numerous diseases linked to microbial imbalance can be traced back to childhood, illustrating the impact of the juvenile microbiota development from infancy toward adulthood. However, knowledge on this subject is currently very limited. The primary aim of this study was to characterize composition and short- and long-term stability of the intestinal microbiota in healthy children. Between November 2011 and June 2014, 61 children 2 to 18 yr of age from different areas in The Netherlands were included and instructed to collect fecal samples weekly, for 6 wk, and a follow-up sample after 18 mo. The intergenic spacer profiling technique (IS-pro) was used to analyze all available fecal samples. Microbial diversity was calculated by the Shannon diversity index and individual compositional stability by comparing all collection time points. Microbial stability varied per phylum (P <0.0005), declined rapidly in a short time period, and subsequently stabilized on the long run with very gradual variation, leading to an overall compositional stability of 70% on average over a period of 18 mo. Higher species diversity was correlated to a higher overall compositional stability (P <0.001). We observed an age-independent bacterial shared core consisting of a limited number of species. In conclusion, in this study, we showed that microbial composition stability in children varied per phylum, at both short-term and long-term intervals. Healthy children seem to share a microbiome core consisting of a limited number of species.-De Meij, T. G. J., Budding, A. E., de Groot, E. F. J., Jansen, F. M., Kneepkens, C. M. F., Benninga, M. A., Penders, J., van Bodegraven, A. A., Savelkoul, P. H. M. Composition and stability of intestinal microbiota of healthy children within a Dutch population
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1512-1522
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • 454-pyrosequencing
  • IS-pro
  • core
  • diversity
  • microbiome

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