Mobile Genes From Mother's Gut Microbes Boosts Baby's Immunity; Study Suggests

Dr. Adam Tabriz

Studies Suggest Microbiome Mobile Genetic Elements Transfer Between Mother, And The Baby Starts Before Birth And Continues After
Mother & babyPhoto byAI-generated by the author using Wonder

The fundamental role of microbiota or microorganisms is commensal, symbiotic, or pathogenic; found in and on all multicellular organisms (including humans) is a well-recognized phenomenon.

Microbiota also plays a significant role in inducing our immune system and training how to respond to situations where our body needs to fight disease.

Our immune system continues to go through a symbiotic relationship with various microbes. This alliance between our bodies and the Microbes is an inducer of a protective response against harmful organisms.

Furthermore, this process continues as the regulatory agent of our immunity and tolerance against diverse antigens. That is precisely why overuse of indiscriminate antibiotics may affect our immunity and health in the long run. Those include an increase in various autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.

Recent studies suggest that every newborn baby may benefit from transferring a valuable piece of the gene from the mother's colony of microbes to the baby's microbial colonies. These pieces of genetic code are called "Mobile Genetic Elements." Such a jump in a beneficial microbe knowledge transfer between the mother and the baby ensures a healthy microbiota and, thus, immunity later in the baby's life.

The Mobile Genetic Elements transfer also affects the Metabolome. The latter primarily refers to the complete set of small-molecule chemicals scientists could isolate from biological samples. These samples' content and quality reflect the function and vitality of the existing collection of the host microbes. The biological samples may consist of cells, contents of cells, organs, and tissue fluid.
Mother & BabiesPhoto byAI-generated using Wonder

The maternal Mobile Genetic Elements (MGE) modulate and shape her gut microbiome. The quality and quantity shift in the maternal gut microbe and the Metabolome can impact the mother's metabolic health.

The infant's gut also houses unique metabolites and microbe-metabolite relationships. Likewise, a baby's diet affects its metabolic standing and immunity development.

The period of pregnancy is a sensitive time for infant development in the future. The mother and baby's gut microbe play a crucial role in developing a baby's cognitive and immune system.

Studies suggest the co-development of maternal and infant gut microbiota and Metabolome starts from late pregnancy to the baby's first birthday. Furthermore, sizeable mother-to-infant transfer of Mobile Genetic Elements often comprises genes that code for diet-related adaptation.

As newborns' metabolomes and Microbes are less diverse, thus metabolomes of babies who received regular yet not broadly hydrolyzed formula differed from those of solely breastfed infants.

The nature and function of Mobile Genetic Elements are manifold. That includes their nature, preservation strategy in the human gut, and transfer mechanism. The new technologies have allowed scientists to learn some of these processes.

The potential role of Mobile Genetic Elements in losing and gaining gene potentiation is clear. That plays a vital role in bacterial and microbe fitness, contributing to the microbiota's genetic adaptation and diversity based on their new environment. However, there is still more for scientists to learn along the expanse of Mobile Genetic Element transfer between human hosts.


  1. Vatanen, Tommi, et al. "Mobile genetic elements from the maternal microbiome shape infant gut microbial assembly and metabolism." Cell vol. 185,26 (2022): 4921–4936.e15. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2022.11.023
  2. Rankin, D J et al. "What traits are carried on mobile genetic elements, and why?." Heredity vol. 106,1 (2011): 1–10. doi:10.1038/hdy.2010.24
  3. Vatanen, T., Jabbar, K.S., Ruohtula, T., Honkanen, J., Avila-Pacheco, J., Siljander, H., Stražar, M., Oikarinen, S., Hyöty, H., Ilonen, J., Mitchell, C.M., Yassour, M., Virtanen, S.M., Clish, C.B., Plichta, D.R., Vlamakis, H., Knip, M., Xavier, R.J., 2022. Mobile genetic elements from the maternal microbiome shape infant gut microbial assembly and metabolism [WWW Document]. Cell. URL (accessed 1.18.23).Mobile Genes From the Mother Shape the Baby's Microbiome | Quanta Magazine [WWW Document], 2023. . Quanta Magazine. URL (accessed 1.18.23).The Role of Mobile Genetic Elements in Bacterial Evolution and their Adaptability [WWW Document], n.d. . Frontiers. URL (accessed 1.18.23).

Illumination publication initially publicized this article on Medium!

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