Milk Bioactives May Manipulate Microbes to Mediate Parent-Offspring Conflict
Among mammals, milk constituents directly influence the ecology of the infant's commensal microbiota. The immunological and nutritional impacts of breast milk and microbiota are increasingly well-understood; less clear are the consequences for infant behavior. Here we propose that interactions among bioactives in mother's milk and microbes in the infant gut contribute to infant behavioral phenotype and, in part, have the potential to mediate parent-offspring conflict. We hypothesize that infant behavior likely varies as a function of their mother's milk composition interacting with the infant's neurobiology directly and indirectly through the commensal gut bacteria. In this paper, we will explore our hypothesis of a milk-microbiota-brain-behavior dynamic in the context of the co-evolution between human milk oligosaccharides (HMO), bacteria, the gut-brain axis, and behavior. Integrating established features of these systems allows us to generate novel hypotheses to motivate future research and consider potential implications of current and emerging clinical treatments.
Evol Med Public Health 2015 Apr 2. 10.1093/emph/eov007