The gut microbiota of humans and animals undergoes remarkable alterations during early age, reaches a relative stable state in adulthood, and is driven by internal and external factors such as antibiotics and diet.
This thesis provides direct evidence that maternal antibiotic treatment, early antibiotic administration and microbial exposure affects the development of intestinal microbiota of piglets. This study reinforces the notion that the early phase of life is critical for the development of intestinal microbiota and immune system, and proposes that manipulation of the microbial association at early age may be a way of supporting functional gut development. In addition, this thesis provides an enhanced understanding of the interaction between diet, microbiota and host in adult pig models. The gained insight is expected to be instrumental in improving sustainable pig management. Moreover, the findings of this thesis may also be useful in understanding similar processes in the human gut.