David A. Relman

Publication Details

  • Strain-resolved community genomic analysis of gut microbial colonization in a premature infant PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Morowitz, M. J., Denef, V. J., Costello, E. K., Thomas, B. C., Poroyko, V., Relman, D. A., Banfield, J. F. 2011; 108 (3): 1128-1133


    The intestinal microbiome is a critical determinant of human health. Alterations in its composition have been correlated with chronic disorders, such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease in adults, and may be associated with neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants. Increasing evidence suggests that strain-level genomic variation may underpin distinct ecological trajectories within mixed populations, yet there have been few strain-resolved analyses of genotype-phenotype connections in the context of the human ecosystem. Here, we document strain-level genomic divergence during the first 3 wk of life within the fecal microbiota of an infant born at 28-wk gestation. We observed three compositional phases during colonization, and reconstructed and intensively curated population genomic datasets from the third phase. The relative abundance of two Citrobacter strains sharing ~99% nucleotide identity changed significantly over time within a community dominated by a nearly clonal Serratia population and harboring a lower abundance Enterococcus population and multiple plasmids and bacteriophage. Modeling of Citrobacter strain abundance suggests differences in growth rates and host colonization patterns. We identified genotypic variation potentially responsible for divergent strain ecologies, including hotspots of sequence variation in regulatory genes and intergenic regions, and in genes involved in transport, flagellar biosynthesis, substrate metabolism, and host colonization, as well as differences in the complements of these genes. Our results demonstrate that a community genomic approach can elucidate gut microbial colonization at the resolution required to discern medically relevant strain and species population dynamics, and hence improve our ability to diagnose and treat microbial community-mediated disorders.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1010992108

    View details for Web of Science ID 000286310300046

    View details for PubMedID 21191099

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