• The Effects of Freezing on Faecal Microbiota as Determined Using MiSeq Sequencing and Culture-Based Investigations

      Fouhy, Fiona; Deane, Jennifer; Rea, Mary; O'Sullivan, Orla; Ross, R Paul; O'Callaghan, Grace; Plant, Barry J.; STANTON, CATHERINE; Science Foundation Ireland; European Union; et al. (PLoS, 06/03/2015)
      Background High-throughput sequencing has enabled detailed insights into complex microbial environments, including the human gut microbiota. The accuracy of the sequencing data however, is reliant upon appropriate storage of the samples prior to DNA extraction. The aim of this study was to conduct the first MiSeq sequencing investigation into the effects of faecal storage on the microbiota, compared to fresh samples. Culture-based analysis was also completed. Methods Seven faecal samples were collected from healthy adults. Samples were separated into fresh (DNA extracted immediately), snap frozen on dry ice and frozen for 7 days at -80°C prior to DNA extraction or samples frozen at -80°C for 7 days before DNA extraction. Sequencing was completed on the Illumina MiSeq platform. Culturing of total aerobes, anaerobes and bifidobacteria was also completed. Results No significant differences at phylum or family levels between the treatment groups occurred. At genus level only Faecalibacterium and Leuconostoc were significantly different in the fresh samples compared to the snap frozen group (p = 0.0298; p = 0.0330 respectively). Diversity analysis indicated that samples clustered based on the individual donor, rather than by storage group. No significant differences occurred in the culture-based analysis between the fresh, snap or -80°C frozen samples. Conclusions Using the MiSeq platform coupled with culture-based analysis, this study highlighted that limited significant changes in microbiota occur following rapid freezing of faecal samples prior to DNA extraction. Thus, rapid freezing of samples prior to DNA extraction and culturing, preserves the integrity of the microbiota.
    • The Gut Microbiota Composition in Dichorionic Triplet Sets Suggests a Role for Host Genetic Factors

      Murphy, Kiera; O'Shea, Carol A; Ryan, C. Anthony; Dempsey, Eugene; O'Toole, Paul W.; STANTON, CATHERINE; Ross, R Paul; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Science Foundation Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; et al. (PLoS, 14/04/2015)
      Monozygotic and dizygotic twin studies investigating the relative roles of host genetics and environmental factors in shaping gut microbiota composition have produced conflicting results. In this study, we investigated the gut microbiota composition of a healthy dichorionic triplet set. The dichorionic triplet set contained a pair of monozygotic twins and a fraternal sibling, with similar pre- and post-natal environmental conditions including feeding regime. V4 16S rRNA and rpoB amplicon pyrosequencing was employed to investigate microbiota composition, and the species and strain diversity of the culturable bifidobacterial population was also examined. At month 1, the monozygotic pair shared a similar microbiota distinct to the fraternal sibling. By month 12 however, the profile was more uniform between the three infants. Principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) of the microbiota composition revealed strong clustering of the monozygotic pair at month 1 and a separation of the fraternal infant. At months 2 and 3 the phylogenetic distance between the monozygotic pair and the fraternal sibling has greatly reduced and by month 12 the monozygotic pair no longer clustered separately from the fraternal infant. Pulse field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis of the bifidobacterial population revealed a lack of strain diversity, with identical strains identified in all three infants at month 1 and 12. The microbiota of two antibiotic-treated dichorionic triplet sets was also investigated. Not surprisingly, in both triplet sets early life antibiotic administration appeared to be a major determinant of microbiota composition at month 1, irrespective of zygosity. By month 12, early antibiotic administration appeared to no longer exert such a strong influence on gut microbiota composition. We hypothesize that initially host genetics play a significant role in the composition of an individual’s gut microbiota, unless an antibiotic intervention is given, but by month 12 environmental factors are the major determinant.
    • N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) Reverse the Impact of Early-Life Stress on the Gut Microbiota

      Pusceddu, Matteo M; El Aidy, Sahar; Crispie, Fiona; O'Sullivan, Orla; Cotter, Paul D.; STANTON, CATHERINE; Kelly, Philip; Cryan, John F.; Dinan, Timothy G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (PLOS, 01/10/2015)
      Background Early life stress is a risk factor for many psychiatric disorders ranging from depression to anxiety. Stress, especially during early life, can induce dysbiosis in the gut microbiota, the key modulators of the bidirectional signalling pathways in the gut-brain axis that underline several neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. Despite their critical role in the development and function of the central nervous system, the effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) on the regulation of gut-microbiota in early-life stress has not been explored. Methods and Results Here, we show that long-term supplementation of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)/docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (80% EPA, 20% DHA) n-3 PUFAs mixture could restore the disturbed gut-microbiota composition of maternally separated (MS) female rats. Sprague-Dawley female rats were subjected to an early-life stress, maternal separation procedure from postnatal days 2 to 12. Non-separated (NS) and MS rats were administered saline, EPA/DHA 0.4 g/kg/day or EPA/DHA 1 g/kg/day, respectively. Analysis of the gut microbiota in adult rats revealed that EPA/DHA changes composition in the MS, and to a lesser extent the NS rats, and was associated with attenuation of the corticosterone response to acute stress. Conclusions In conclusion, EPA/DHA intervention alters the gut microbiota composition of both neurodevelopmentally normal and early-life stressed animals. This study offers insights into the interaction between n-3 PUFAs and gut microbes, which may play an important role in advancing our understanding of disorders of mood and cognitive functioning, such as anxiety and depression.