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Concept: 16S ribosomal RNA


The built environment (BE) and in particular kitchen environments harbor a remarkable microbial diversity, including pathogens. We analyzed the bacterial microbiome of used kitchen sponges by 454-pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes and fluorescence in situ hybridization coupled with confocal laser scanning microscopy (FISH-CLSM). Pyrosequencing showed a relative dominance of Gammaproteobacteria within the sponge microbiota. Five of the ten most abundant OTUs were closely related to risk group 2 (RG2) species, previously detected in the BE and kitchen microbiome. Regular cleaning of sponges, indicated by their users, significantly affected the microbiome structure. Two of the ten dominant OTUs, closely related to the RG2-species Chryseobacterium hominis and Moraxella osloensis, showed significantly greater proportions in regularly sanitized sponges, thereby questioning such sanitation methods in a long term perspective. FISH-CLSM showed an ubiquitous distribution of bacteria within the sponge tissue, concentrating in internal cavities and on sponge surfaces, where biofilm-like structures occurred. Image analysis showed local densities of up to 5.4 * 10(10) cells per cm(3), and confirmed the dominance of Gammaproteobacteria. Our study stresses and visualizes the role of kitchen sponges as microbiological hot spots in the BE, with the capability to collect and spread bacteria with a probable pathogenic potential.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Archaea, Bacteria, Microbiology, Ribosomal RNA, Pathogen, 16S ribosomal RNA, Microorganism


Dispersal of microbes between humans and the built environment can occur through direct contact with surfaces or through airborne release; the latter mechanism remains poorly understood. Humans emit upwards of 10(6) biological particles per hour, and have long been known to transmit pathogens to other individuals and to indoor surfaces. However it has not previously been demonstrated that humans emit a detectible microbial cloud into surrounding indoor air, nor whether such clouds are sufficiently differentiated to allow the identification of individual occupants. We used high-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA genes to characterize the airborne bacterial contribution of a single person sitting in a sanitized custom experimental climate chamber. We compared that to air sampled in an adjacent, identical, unoccupied chamber, as well as to supply and exhaust air sources. Additionally, we assessed microbial communities in settled particles surrounding each occupant, to investigate the potential long-term fate of airborne microbial emissions. Most occupants could be clearly detected by their airborne bacterial emissions, as well as their contribution to settled particles, within 1.5-4 h. Bacterial clouds from the occupants were statistically distinct, allowing the identification of some individual occupants. Our results confirm that an occupied space is microbially distinct from an unoccupied one, and demonstrate for the first time that individuals release their own personalized microbial cloud.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Organism, Microbiology, Ribosomal RNA, Biotechnology, 16S ribosomal RNA, Microorganism


Variation in the human fecal microbiota has previously been associated with body mass index (BMI). Although obesity is a global health burden, the accumulation of abdominal visceral fat is the specific cardio-metabolic disease risk factor. Here, we explore links between the fecal microbiota and abdominal adiposity using body composition as measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in a large sample of twins from the TwinsUK cohort, comparing fecal 16S rRNA diversity profiles with six adiposity measures.

Concepts: Cancer, Nutrition, Obesity, Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, Body mass index, 16S ribosomal RNA, Abdomen, Body shape


Early-life exposure to household pets has the capacity to reduce risk for overweight and allergic disease, especially following caesarean delivery. Since there is some evidence that pets also alter the gut microbial composition of infants, changes to the gut microbiome are putative pathways by which pet exposure can reduce these risks to health. To investigate the impact of pre- and postnatal pet exposure on infant gut microbiota following various birth scenarios, this study employed a large subsample of 746 infants from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study (CHILD) cohort, whose mothers were enrolled during pregnancy between 2009 and 2012. Participating mothers were asked to report on household pet ownership at recruitment during the second or third trimester and 3 months postpartum. Infant gut microbiota were profiled with 16S rRNA sequencing from faecal samples collected at the mean age of 3.3 months. Two categories of pet exposure (i) only during pregnancy and (ii) pre- and postnatally were compared to no pet exposure under different birth scenarios.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Gut flora, Ribosomal RNA, Allergy, 16S ribosomal RNA, Feces


The human skin is an organ with a surface area of 1.5-2 m(2) that provides our interface with the environment. The molecular composition of this organ is derived from host cells, microbiota, and external molecules. The chemical makeup of the skin surface is largely undefined. Here we advance the technologies needed to explore the topographical distribution of skin molecules, using 3D mapping of mass spectrometry data and microbial 16S rRNA amplicon sequences. Our 3D maps reveal that the molecular composition of skin has diverse distributions and that the composition is defined not only by skin cells and microbes but also by our daily routines, including the application of hygiene products. The technological development of these maps lays a foundation for studying the spatial relationships of human skin with hygiene, the microbiota, and environment, with potential for developing predictive models of skin phenotypes tailored to individual health.

Concepts: DNA, Archaea, Bacteria, Ribosomal RNA, Geography, 16S ribosomal RNA, Skin, Map


Attempts to alter intestinal dysbiosis via administration of probiotics have consistently shown that colonization with the administered microbes is transient. This study sought to determine whether provision of an initial course of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis) would lead to persistent colonization of the probiotic organism in breastfed infants. Mothers intending to breastfeed were recruited and provided with lactation support. One group of mothers fed B. infantis EVC001 to their infants from day 7 to day 28 of life (n = 34), and the second group did not administer any probiotic (n = 32). Fecal samples were collected during the first 60 postnatal days in both groups. Fecal samples were assessed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing, quantitative PCR, mass spectrometry, and endotoxin measurement. B. infantis-fed infants had significantly higher populations of fecal Bifidobacteriaceae, in particular B. infantis, while EVC001 was fed, and this difference persisted more than 30 days after EVC001 supplementation ceased. Fecal milk oligosaccharides were significantly lower in B. infantis EVC001-fed infants, demonstrating higher consumption of human milk oligosaccharides by B. infantis EVC001. Concentrations of acetate and lactate were significantly higher and fecal pH was significantly lower in infants fed EVC001, demonstrating alterations in intestinal fermentation. Infants colonized by Bifidobacteriaceae at high levels had 4-fold-lower fecal endotoxin levels, consistent with observed lower levels of Gram-negative Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes. IMPORTANCE The gut microbiome in early life plays an important role for long-term health and is shaped in large part by diet. Probiotics may contribute to improvements in health, but they have not been shown to alter the community composition of the gut microbiome. Here, we found that breastfed infants could be stably colonized at high levels by provision of B. infantis EVC001, with significant changes to the overall microbiome composition persisting more than a month later, whether the infants were born vaginally or by caesarean section. This observation is consistent with previous studies demonstrating the capacity of this subspecies to utilize human milk glycans as a nutrient and underscores the importance of pairing a probiotic organism with a specific substrate. Colonization by B. infantis EVC001 resulted in significant changes to fecal microbiome composition and was associated with improvements in fecal biochemistry. The combination of human milk and an infant-associated Bifidobacterium sp. shows, for the first time, that durable changes to the human gut microbiome are possible and are associated with improved gut function.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Ribosomal RNA, Milk, Breastfeeding, Lactation, 16S ribosomal RNA, Breast milk


Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, phytochemicals and antioxidants making them unique compared to other foods. Consuming walnuts has been associated with health benefits including a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome has been linked to several chronic diseases. One potential mechanism by which walnuts may exert their health benefit is through modifying the gut microbiome. This study identified the changes in the gut microbial communities that occur following the inclusion of walnuts in the diet. Male Fischer 344 rats (n=20) were randomly assigned to one of two diets for as long as 10 weeks: (1) walnut (W), and (2) replacement ® in which the fat, fiber, and protein in walnuts were matched with corn oil, protein casein, and a cellulose fiber source. Intestinal samples were collected from the descending colon, the DNA isolated, and the V3-V4 hypervariable region of 16S rRNA gene deep sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq for characterization of the gut microbiota. Body weight and food intake did not differ significantly between the two diet groups. The diet groups had distinct microbial communities with animals consuming walnuts displaying significantly greater species diversity. Walnuts increased the abundance of Firmicutes and reduced the abundance of Bacteriodetes. Walnuts enriched the microbiota for probiotic-type bacteria including Lactobacillus, Ruminococcaceae, and Roseburia while significantly reducing Bacteroides and Anaerotruncus. The class Alphaproteobacteria was also reduced. Walnut consumption altered the gut microbial community suggesting a new mechanism by which walnuts may confer their beneficial health effects.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Microbiology, Ribosomal RNA, Omega-3 fatty acid, 16S ribosomal RNA


Clostridium difficile causes antibiotic-associated diarrhea and pseudomembraneous colitis and is responsible for a large and increasing fraction of hospital-acquired infections. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an alternate treatment option for recurrent C. difficile infection (RCDI) refractory to antibiotic therapy. It has recently been discussed favorably in the clinical and scientific communities and is receiving increasing public attention. However, short- and long-term health consequences of FMT remain a concern, as the effects of the transplanted microbiota on the patient remain unknown. To shed light on microbial events associated with RCDI and treatment by FMT, we performed fecal microbiota analysis by 16S rRNA gene amplicon pyrosequencing of 14 pairs of healthy donors and RCDI patients treated successfully by FMT. Post-FMT patient and healthy donor samples collected up to one year after FMT were studied longitudinally, including one post-FMT patient with antibiotic-associated relapse three months after FMT. This analysis allowed us not only to confirm prior reports that RCDI is associated with reduced diversity and compositional changes in the fecal microbiota, but also to characterize previously undocumented post-FMT microbiota dynamics. Members of the Streptococcaceae, Enterococcaceae, or Enterobacteriaceae were significantly increased and putative butyrate producers, such as Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae were significantly reduced in samples from RCDI patients before FMT as compared to post-FMT patient and healthy donor samples. RCDI patient samples showed more case-specific variations than post-FMT patient and healthy donor samples. However, none of the bacterial groups were invariably associated with RCDI or successful treatment by FMT. Overall microbiota compositions in post-FMT patients, specifically abundances of the above-mentioned Firmicutes, continued to change for at least 16 weeks after FMT, suggesting that full microbiota recovery from RCDI may take much longer than expected based on the disappearance of diarrheal symptoms immediately after FMT.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Ribosomal RNA, Antibiotic resistance, 16S ribosomal RNA, Antibiotic, Clostridium difficile, Diarrhea


We present bacterial biogeography as sampled from the human gastrointestinal tract of four healthy subjects. This study generated >32 million paired-end sequences of bacterial 16S rRNA genes (V3 region) representing >95,000 unique operational taxonomic units (OTUs; 97% similarity clusters), with >99% Good’s coverage for all samples. The highest OTU richness and phylogenetic diversity was found in the mouth samples. The microbial communities of multiple biopsy sites within the colon were highly similar within individuals and largely distinct from those in stool. Within an individual, OTU overlap among broad site definitions (mouth, stomach/duodenum, colon and stool) ranged from 32-110 OTUs, 25 of which were common to all individuals and included OTUs affiliated with Faecalibacterium prasnitzii and the TM7 phylum. This first comprehensive characterization of the abundant and rare microflora found along the healthy human digestive tract represents essential groundwork to investigate further how the human microbiome relates to health and disease.

Concepts: Archaea, Microbiology, Ribosomal RNA, Digestive system, 16S ribosomal RNA, Gastroenterology, Human gastrointestinal tract, Digestion


The characterization of microbial community structure via 16S rRNA gene profiling has been greatly advanced in recent years by the introduction of amplicon pyrosequencing. The possibility of barcoding gives the opportunity to massively screen multiple samples from environmental or clinical sources for community details. However, an on-going debate questions the reproducibility and semi-quantitative rigour of pyrotag sequencing, similar to the early days of community fingerprinting. In this study we demonstrate the reproducibility of bacterial 454 pyrotag sequencing over biological and technical replicates of aquifer sediment bacterial communities. Moreover, we explore the potential of recovering specific template ratios via quantitatively defined template spiking to environmental DNA. We sequenced pyrotag libraries of triplicate sediment samples taken in annual sampling campaigns at a tar oil contaminated aquifer in Düsseldorf, Germany. The abundance of dominating lineages was highly reproducible with a maximal standard deviation of ~4% read abundance across biological, and ~2% across technical replicates. Our workflow also allows for the linking of read abundances within defined assembled pyrotag contigs to that of specific ‘in vivo’ fingerprinting signatures. Thus we demonstrate that both terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis and pyrotag sequencing are capable of recovering highly comparable community structure. Overall diversity was roughly double in amplicon sequencing. Pyrotag libraries were also capable of linearly recovering increasing ratios (up to 20%) of 16S rRNA gene amendments from a pure culture of Aliivibrio fisheri spiked to sediment DNA. Our study demonstrates that 454 pyrotag sequencing is a robust and reproducible method, capable of reliably recovering template abundances and overall community structure within natural microbial communities.

Concepts: DNA, Scientific method, Molecular biology, Microbiology, Ribosomal RNA, Biotechnology, 16S ribosomal RNA, Restriction fragment length polymorphism