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DOI: 10.1101/2023.05.22.541509

A genome catalog of the early-life human skin microbiome

Z.Shen L. Robert M. Stolpman ...+18 J. A. Segre
Metagenome-assembled genomes have greatly expanded the reference genomes for skin microbiome. However, the current reference genomes are largely based on samples from adults in North America and lack representation from infants and individuals from other continents. Here we used ultra-deep shotgun metagenomic sequencing to profile the skin microbiota of 215 infants at age 2-3 months and 12 months who were part of the VITALITY trial in Australia as well as 67 maternally-matched samples. Based on the infant samples, we present the Early-Life Skin Genomes (ELSG) catalog, comprising 9,194 bacterial genomes from 1,029 species, 206 fungal genomes from 13 species, and 39 eukaryotic viral sequences. This genome catalog substantially expands the diversity of species previously known to comprise human skin microbiome and improves the classification rate of sequenced data by 25%. The protein catalog derived from these genomes provides insights into the functional elements such as defense mechanisms that distinguish early-life skin microbiome. We also found evidence for vertical transmission at the microbial community, individual skin bacterial species and strain levels between mothers and infants. Overall, the ELSG catalog uncovers the skin microbiome of a previously underrepresented age group and population and provides a comprehensive view of human skin microbiome diversity, function, and transmission in early life.