Temporal dynamics of Escherichia coli and the microbiome
Martinson, Jonathan Nathan Vernon
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Over the past two decades, our understanding of the gut microbiome has increased dramatically. However, most studies involving healthy adults have relied almost exclusively on cross-sectional design, negating the changes occurring within an individual's microbiome through time. With this, we performed a small longitudinal study over a period of ~2 years with a cohort of 8 healthy adults. By sequencing the DNA encoding the 16S ribosomal RNA gene, we assessed the community level change in this cohort through time. Similar to previous findings, we found that using these methods there was remarkable stability through time with nearly 50% of the microbiome remaining the same throughout the study period in the participants. However, analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA sequences limits taxonomic resolution. By cultivating members of the Enterobacteriaceae, we found that turnover at the clone-level (below the species level) was common. Within the Enterobacteriaceae, Escherichia coli was the most numerically dominant species and most often observed as a long-term member of the gut (i.e. resident). Longitudinal analysis of Escherichia coli revealed that some phylogenetic groups within the species are more often long-term residents than other phylogroups. We next assessed the means by which the resident E. coli were capable of establishing and maintaining themselves in the gut. We found that residents were much more likely to produce antagonism (inhibition of other clones) than the E. coli that did not reside in the gut long-term.