Breastmilk and NICU surfaces are potential sources of fungi for infant mycobiomes

Timothy Heisel, Linet Nyaribo, Michael J Sadowsky, Cheryl A Gale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Surfaces within the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), especially those handled frequently by hospital staff, provide sources of gut-colonizing bacteria for hospitalized infants, in addition to those acquired perinatally from maternal sources such as breastmilk. In comparison to bacteria, very little is known about potential sources of colonizing fungi in the NICU setting. Thus, the objective of this study was to characterize fungal communities (mycobiomes) of potential colonization sources for neonates hospitalized in a large university NICU. We hypothesized that the unit surfaces would contain different mycobiomes than those of human-associated (breastmilk) sources. We characterized mycobiomes of NICU surfaces of multiple individual patient care areas as well as those of breastmilk samples by sequencing the internal transcribed spacer region 2 (ITS2) of the fungal rDNA locus. We found that, across all samples, Candida and Saccharomyces species were the most prevalent taxa and had the greatest relative abundances. Breastmilk samples had significantly higher fungal alpha-diversities than NICU surface samples and fungal community compositions (beta diversities) differed significantly between the two sample types. Mycobiome compositions were predominantly driven by the relative abundances of three fungal taxa: Candida albicans, Candida parapsilosis, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In total, 21 individual fungal taxa showed significantly greater relative abundances in breastmilk as compared to NICU surfaces, with three being of particular interest to human health: Candida glabrata, Candida tropicalis, and Cryptococcus neoformans. Since no fungal DNA was detected when whole breastmilk was used as the DNA template, as opposed to breastmilk subjected to cell lysis during the DNA isolation procedure, our results indicate that DNA is from fungal cells and is not cell-free DNA. In summary, both NICU surfaces and human breastmilk harbor distinct fungal communities that could provide a source of fungi for the developing infant gut mycobiota. In particular, Candida and Saccharomyces species are abundant and prevalent for both of these potential sources that infants are exposed to.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
JournalFungal Genetics and Biology
Volume128
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

Fingerprint

Neonatal Intensive Care Units
Fungi
Fungal DNA
Candida
Saccharomyces
DNA
Candida tropicalis
Bacteria
Candida glabrata
Cryptococcus neoformans
Ribosomal DNA
Mycobiome
Candida albicans
Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Patient Care
Mothers
Newborn Infant
Health

Keywords

  • Breastmilk
  • Fungi
  • Hospital surfaces
  • Mycobiome
  • Newborn intensive care

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

Cite this

Breastmilk and NICU surfaces are potential sources of fungi for infant mycobiomes. / Heisel, Timothy; Nyaribo, Linet; Sadowsky, Michael J; Gale, Cheryl A.

In: Fungal Genetics and Biology, Vol. 128, 01.07.2019, p. 29-35.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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