Comparative analysis of the distribution of segmented filamentous bacteria in humans, mice and chickens

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Segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) are indigenous gut commensal bacteria. They are commonly detected in the gastrointestinal tracts of both vertebrates and invertebrates. Despite the significant role they have in the modulation of the development of host immune systems, little information exists regarding the presence of SFB in humans. The aim of this study was to investigate the distribution and diversity of SFB in humans and to determine their phylogenetic relationships with their hosts. Gut contents from 251 humans, 92 mice and 72 chickens were collected for bacterial genomic DNA extraction and subjected to SFB 16S rRNA-specific PCR detection. The results showed SFB colonization to be age-dependent in humans, with the majority of individuals colonized within the first 2 years of life, but this colonization disappeared by the age of 3 years. Results of 16S rRNA sequencing showed that multiple operational taxonomic units of SFB could exist in the same individuals. Cross-species comparison among human, mouse and chicken samples demonstrated that each host possessed an exclusive predominant SFB sequence. In summary, our results showed that SFB display host specificity, and SFB colonization, which occurs early in human life, declines in an age-dependent manner.


The version of record is available from the publisher at http://www.nature.com/ismej/journal/v7/n3/pdf/ismej2012128a.pdf. Copyright © 2013 International Society for Microbial Ecology.