The intestinal microbiota composition and development of preterm infants in early life

This project aims to study early life microbiota development in preterm infants with respect to composition and function. Eventually, this knowledge could contribute to advances in neonatal care.

Early in life, the intestinal microbiota matures simultaneously with the gastrointestinal tract and immune system. As such, intestinal microbiota development in early life is a cornerstone for overall health and well-being on both short and long term1.

Perturbations in early life, including preterm birth, are known to have major effects on intestinal microbiota development and thereby on health2. Because of the relevant role of the intestinal microbiota, our project aims to explore the composition and function of preterm infant microbiota over time. We will pursue these aims by answering the following research questions:

  • How does the intestinal microbiota of preterm infants develop early in life?
  • Does the preterm intestinal microbiota affect human milk digestion?
  • What is the effect of a synbiotic supplement on the preterm intestinal microbiota?

Are you curious and enthusiastic to find the answers to our research questions during your thesis or internship? We offer you a position in which you can contribute to answering these research questions while learning microbiological techniques such as DNA extraction, 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, (q)PCR, LC-MS/MS, and in vitro fermentations.