Shu Mei Teo, Danny Mok, Kym Pham, Merci Kusel, Michael Serralha, Niamh Troy, Barbara J Holt, Belinda J Hales, Michael L Walker, Elysia Hollams, Yury H Bochkov, Kristine Grindle, Sebastian L Johnston, James E Gern, Peter D Sly, Patrick G Holt, Kathryn E Holt, Michael Inouye
The nasopharynx (NP) is a reservoir for microbes associated with acute respiratory illnesses (ARI). The development of asthma is initiated during infancy, driven by airway inflammation associated with infections. Here, we report viral and bacterial community profiling of NP aspirates across a birth cohort, capturing all lower respiratory illnesses during their first year. Most infants were initially colonized with Staphylococcus or Corynebacterium before stable colonization with Alloiococcus or Moraxella, with transient incursions of Streptococcus, Moraxella or Haemophilus marking virus-associated ARIs. Our data identify the NP microbiome as a determinant for infection spread to the lower airways, severity of accompanying inflammatory symptoms, and risk for future asthma development. Early asymptomatic colonization with Streptococcus was a strong asthma predictor, and antibiotic usage disrupted asymptomatic colonization patterns.