Genomic diversity and distribution of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum across the human lifespan

Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 8;8(1):85. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18391-x.


Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum represents one of the most prevalent bifidobacterial species in the infant, adult and elderly (human) gut. In the current study, we performed a comparative genome analysis involving 145 B. longum representatives, including 113 B. longum subsp. longum strains obtained from healthy Japanese subjects aged between 0 and 98 years. Although MCL clustering did not reveal any correlation between isolated strains and subject age, certain characteristics appear to be more prevalent among strains corresponding to specific host ages, such as genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and environmental response. Remarkably, a substantial number of strains appeared to have been transmitted across family members, a phenomenon that was shown not to be confined to mother-infant pairs. This suggests that the ubiquitous distribution of B. longum subsp. longum across the human lifespan is at least partly due to extensive transmission between relatives. Our findings form a foundation for future research aimed at unraveling the mechanisms that allow B. longum strains to successfully transfer between human hosts, where they then colonize and persist in the gut environment throughout the host's lifespan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bifidobacterium longum / classification*
  • Bifidobacterium longum / genetics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Gene Order
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Japan
  • Metagenome*
  • Metagenomics* / methods
  • Microbiota*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multigene Family
  • Phylogeny
  • Young Adult