The introduction of solid foods is an important dietary event during infancy that causes profound shifts in the gut microbial composition towards a more adult-like state. Infant gut bacterial dynamics, especially in relation to nutritional intake remain understudied. Over 2 weeks surrounding the time of solid food introduction, the day-to-day dynamics in the gut microbiomes of 24 healthy, full-term infants from the Baby, Food & Mi and LucKi-Gut cohort studies were investigated in relation to their dietary intake. Microbial richness (observed species) and diversity (Shannon index) increased over time and were positively associated with dietary diversity. Microbial community structure (Bray-Curtis dissimilarity) was determined predominantly by individual and age (days). The extent of change in community structure in the introductory period was negatively associated with daily dietary diversity. High daily dietary diversity stabilized the gut microbiome. Bifidobacterial taxa were positively associated, while taxa of the genus Veillonella, that may be the same species, were negatively associated with dietary diversity in both cohorts. This study furthers our understanding of the impact of solid food introduction on gut microbiome development in early life. Dietary diversity seems to have the greatest impact on the gut microbiome as solids are introduced.
Keywords: 16S rRNA; complementary foods; dietary diversity; gut community; infant gut microbiome; infant nutrition; introduction to solids; microbial diversity.