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1.  First-Pass Meconium Samples from Healthy Term Vaginally-Delivered Neonates: An Analysis of the Microbiota 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133320.
Considerable effort has been made to categorise the bacterial composition of the human gut and correlate findings with gastrointestinal disease. The infant gut has long been considered sterile at birth followed by rapid colonisation; however, this view has recently been challenged. We examined first-pass meconium from healthy term infants to confirm or refute sterility.
Healthy mothers were approached following vaginal delivery. First-pass meconium stools within 24 hours of delivery were obtained from healthy, breastfed infants with tight inclusion/exclusion criteria including rejecting any known antibiotic exposure - mother within 7 days preceding delivery or infant after birth. Stools were processed in triplicate for fluorescent in-situ hybridisation (FISH) with 16S rRNA-targeted probes including Bifidobacterium; Bacteroides-Prevotella; Lactobacillaceae/Enterococcaceae; Enterobacteriaceae; Streptococcaceae; Staphylococcaceae and Enterococcaceae. Absolute counts of all bacteria and proportional identification of each bacterial group were calculated. Confirmation of bacterial presence by PCR was undertaken on FISH-positive samples.
The mothers of 31 newborn infants were recruited, 15 met inclusion/exclusion criteria and provided a sample within 24 hours of birth, processed in the lab within 4 hours. All babies were 37–40 weeks gestation. 8/15 were male, mean birth weight was 3.4kg and mean maternal age was 32 years. Meconium samples from 10/15 (66%) infants had evidence of bacteria based on FISH analysis. Of these, PCR was positive in only 1. Positive FISH counts ranged from 2.2 - 41.8 x 104 cells/g with a mean of 15.4 x 104 cells/g. (The limit of detection for automated counting is 106 cells/g). Cell counts were too low to allow formal diversity analysis. Amplification by PCR was not possible despite positive spiked samples demonstrating the feasibility of reaction. One baby was dominated by Enterobacteriaceae. The others contained 2-5 genera, with Bifidobacterium, Enterobacteriaceae, Enterococcaceae and Bacteroides-Prevotella the most prevalent. There was no association between bacterial counts and rupture of membrane duration, time to passage of meconium or time to lab.
This study provides evidence that low numbers of bacteria are present in first-pass meconium samples from healthy, vaginally-delivered, breastfed term infants. Only two-thirds of meconium samples had detectable bacteria, though at levels too low for automated counting or for reliable confirmation by PCR. This study suggests that gut bacterial colonisation is extremely limited at birth and occurs rapidly thereafter.
PMCID: PMC4517813  PMID: 26218283
2.  Web services at the European Bioinformatics Institute-2009 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;37(Web Server issue):W6-W10.
The European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) has been providing access to mainstream databases and tools in bioinformatics since 1997. In addition to the traditional web form based interfaces, APIs exist for core data resources such as EMBL-Bank, Ensembl, UniProt, InterPro, PDB and ArrayExpress. These APIs are based on Web Services (SOAP/REST) interfaces that allow users to systematically access databases and analytical tools. From the user's point of view, these Web Services provide the same functionality as the browser-based forms. However, using the APIs frees the user from web page constraints and are ideal for the analysis of large batches of data, performing text-mining tasks and the casual or systematic evaluation of mathematical models in regulatory networks. Furthermore, these services are widespread and easy to use; require no prior knowledge of the technology and no more than basic experience in programming. In the following we wish to inform of new and updated services as well as briefly describe planned developments to be made available during the course of 2009–2010.
PMCID: PMC2703973  PMID: 19435877
3.  Transfer of Conjugative Elements from Rumen and Human Firmicutes Bacteria to Roseburia inulinivorans▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(12):3915-3917.
Studies on Firmicutes bacteria from the gut are hampered by a lack of gene transfer systems. Here the human colonic anaerobe Roseburia inulinivorans A2-194 was shown to be a transfer recipient for two conjugative transposons, Tn1545 from Eubacterium cellulosolvens and TnK10 from Clostridium saccharolyticum K10.
PMCID: PMC2446557  PMID: 18456856
4.  Successful Boosting of a DNA Measles Immunization with an Oral Plant-Derived Measles Virus Vaccine 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(15):7910-7912.
Despite eradication attempts, measles remains a global health concern. Here we report results that demonstrate that a single-dose DNA immunization followed by multiple boosters, delivered orally as a plant-derived vaccine, can induce significantly greater quantities of measles virus-neutralizing antibodies than immunization with either DNA or plant-derived vaccines alone. This represents the first demonstration of an enhanced immune response to a prime-boost vaccination strategy combining a DNA vaccine with edible plant technology.
PMCID: PMC136403  PMID: 12097606

Results 1-4 (4)