CORDIS - EU research results

The Power of Maternal Microbes on Infant Health

Project description

Breast milk microbiota and infant health

Breast milk microbes represent the main postnatal source of microbes for the neonate and have the potential to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases, including obesity, allergies and inflammatory conditions, which are also associated with microbial alterations. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the factors that determine breast milk composition and its impact on infants’ health. The ERC-funded MAMI project will investigate the influence of host and environmental factors on maternal microbiota, explore the interactions between bioactive compounds in breast milk and understand their role in infant health. MAMI will focus on identifying the core microbial organisms and bioactive compounds transferred through breastfeeding, elucidating how maternal microbes affect an infant’s immune system. Another aim is to identify novel dietary strategies and therapies that involve microbial replacement and modulation.


Recent reports suggest that early microbial colonization has an important role for in promoting health. This may contribute to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, allergies and inflammatory conditions. Advances in understanding host-microbe interactions imply that maternal microbiota plays a crucial role on health programming. This process begins in utero and it is modulated by mode of delivery and diet. My research has shown that i) specific shifts in milk microbial composition are associated with lactation time and mode of delivery, ii) milk microbes drive the infant microbiota composition; iii) maternal microbiota dysbiosis may be transferred to the infant. However, factors defining maternal microbiota and its biological role upon infant’s health are not yet fully understood. Hence, this project aims to characterize maternal microbes to be transferred to neonates and determine their function in infant health programming. The specific aims are:(1) understanding how the maternal microbiome is influenced by host and environmental factors;(2) characterizing the microbial core and bioactive compounds transmitted to the offspring mainly via breastfeeding and their key roles in the microbial modulation and host response;(3) understanding the interactions among breast milk bioactive compounds and their role in infant health;(4) shedding light on how maternal microbes influence the infant immune system & (5)development of new dietary strategies and therapies based on microbial replacement and modulation. To achieve these objectives, a systems biology approach by means of state-of-the-art techniques and new methodologies based on subpopulation enrichment by flow cytometer-sorter to study host–microbe interactions will be used. Results obtained will demonstrate the interaction between infant nutrition, microbes and host response in early life and its key role in health programming, enabling new applications in the field of personalized nutrition & medicine.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 979,00
28006 Madrid

See on map

Comunidad de Madrid Comunidad de Madrid Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 499 979,00

Beneficiaries (1)