Mycobiome profiles in breast milk from healthy women depend on mode of delivery, geographic location, and interaction with bacteria

Alba Boix-Amorós, Fernando Puente-Sánchez, Elloise du Toit, Kaisa M. Linderborg, Yumei Zhang, Baoru Yang, Seppo Salminen, Erika Isolauri, Javier Tamames, Alex Mira, Maria Carmen Collado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Recent studies report the presence of fungal species in breast milk of healthy mothers, suggesting a potential role in infant mycobiome development. In the present work, we aimed to determine whether the healthy human breast milk mycobiota is influenced by geographical location and mode of delivery, as well as to investigate its interaction with bacterial profiles in the same samples. A total of 80 mature breast milk samples from 4 different countries were analyzed by Illumina sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) region, joining the 18S and 5.8S regions of the fungal rRNA region. Basidiomycota and Ascomycota were found to be the dominant phyla, with Malassezia and Davidiella being the most prevalent genera across countries. A core formed by Malassezia, Davidiella, Sistotrema, and Penicillium was shared in the milk samples from the different origins, although specific shifts in mycobiome composition were associated with geographic location and delivery mode. The presence of fungi in the breast milk samples was further confirmed by culture and isolate characterization, and fungal loads were estimated by quantitative PCR (qPCR) targeting the fungal ITS1 region. Cooccurrence network analysis of bacteria and fungi showed complex interactions that were influenced by geographical location, mode of delivery, maternal age, and pregestational body mass index. The presence of a breast milk mycobiome was confirmed in all samples analyzed, regardless of the geographic origin.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02994-18
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast milk
  • Fungi
  • Illumina sequencing
  • Microbiota
  • Mycobiota


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