FIGURE 3 | Acquisition of the microbiome in early life by vertical transmission, and factors modifying mother-to-child microbial transmission.

From the following article:

The human microbiome: at the interface of health and disease

Ilseung Cho & Martin J. Blaser

Nature Reviews Genetics 13, 260-270 (April 2012)


The human microbiome: at the interface of health and disease

Through live-birth, mammals have important opportunities for mother-to-child microbial transmission through direct surface contact. However, many modern practices can reduce organism and gene flow; several examples are illustrated. After initial introductions, there is strong selection by hosts for microbes with specific phenotypes, consistent with the extensive conservation shown in Fig. 1. Acquisition is modified by differences in offspring genetics and epigenetics (with respect to both maternal and paternal genes) that inform the competition for host resources by the vertically transmitted or environmentally acquired microbes. Ancestral organisms that have particular tissue-specific and niche-specific adaptations facilitate tissue tropisms and are selected for, thus explaining the conserved niche-specificity compositions.

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