Early development of the gut ecosystem is crucial for lifelong health. While infant gut bacterial communities have been studied extensively, the infant gut virome remains under-explored. To study the development of the infant gut virome over time and the factors that shape it, we longitudinally assess the composition of gut viruses and their bacterial hosts in 30 women during and after pregnancy and in their 32 infants during their first year of life. Using shotgun metagenomic sequencing applied to dsDNA extracted from Virus-Like Particles (VLPs) and bacteria, we generate 205 VLP metaviromes and 322 total metagenomes. With this data, we show that while the maternal gut virome composition remains stable during late pregnancy and after birth, the infant gut virome is dynamic in the first year of life. Notably, infant gut viromes contain a higher abundance of active temperate phages compared to maternal gut viromes, which decreases over the first year of life. Moreover, we show that the feeding mode and place of delivery influence the gut virome composition of infants. Lastly, we provide evidence of co-transmission of viral and bacterial strains from mothers to infants, demonstrating that infants acquire some of their virome from their mother's gut.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1945
Number of pages19
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2-Mar-2024


  • Infant
  • Humans
  • Female
  • Pregnancy
  • Mothers
  • Viruses
  • Bacteriophages/genetics
  • Microbiota
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Bacteria/genetics

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