Associations between bacterial communities of house dust and infant gut

Environ Res. 2014 May;131:25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.02.005. Epub 2014 Mar 15.


The human gut is host to a diverse and abundant community of bacteria that influence health and disease susceptibility. This community develops in infancy, and its composition is strongly influenced by environmental factors, notably perinatal anthropogenic exposures such as delivery mode (Cesarean vs. vaginal) and feeding method (breast vs. formula); however, the built environment as a possible source of exposure has not been considered. Here we report on a preliminary investigation of the associations between bacteria in house dust and the nascent fecal microbiota from 20 subjects from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study using high-throughput sequence analysis of portions of the 16S rRNA gene. Despite significant differences between the dust and fecal microbiota revealed by Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling (NMDS) analysis, permutation analysis confirmed that 14 bacterial OTUs representing the classes Actinobacteria (3), Bacilli (3), Clostridia (6) and Gammaproteobacteria (2) co-occurred at a significantly higher frequency in matched dust-stool pairs than in randomly permuted pairs, indicating an association between these dust and stool communities. These associations could indicate a role for the indoor environment in shaping the nascent gut microbiota, but future studies will be needed to confirm that our findings do not solely reflect a reverse pathway. Although pet ownership was strongly associated with the presence of certain genera in the dust for dogs (Agrococcus, Carnobacterium, Exiguobacterium, Herbaspirillum, Leifsonia and Neisseria) and cats (Escherichia), no clear patterns were observed in the NMDS-resolved stool community profiles as a function of pet ownership.

Keywords: Built environment; Child health; Gut microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Dust*
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Microbial Consortia*
  • Pets


  • Dust