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      Microbial Biogeography of Public Restroom Surfaces

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          Abstract

          We spend the majority of our lives indoors where we are constantly exposed to bacteria residing on surfaces. However, the diversity of these surface-associated communities is largely unknown. We explored the biogeographical patterns exhibited by bacteria across ten surfaces within each of twelve public restrooms. Using high-throughput barcoded pyrosequencing of the 16 S rRNA gene, we identified 19 bacterial phyla across all surfaces. Most sequences belonged to four phyla: Actinobacteria, Bacteriodetes, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. The communities clustered into three general categories: those found on surfaces associated with toilets, those on the restroom floor, and those found on surfaces routinely touched with hands. On toilet surfaces, gut-associated taxa were more prevalent, suggesting fecal contamination of these surfaces. Floor surfaces were the most diverse of all communities and contained several taxa commonly found in soils. Skin-associated bacteria, especially the Propionibacteriaceae, dominated surfaces routinely touched with our hands. Certain taxa were more common in female than in male restrooms as vagina-associated Lactobacillaceae were widely distributed in female restrooms, likely from urine contamination. Use of the SourceTracker algorithm confirmed many of our taxonomic observations as human skin was the primary source of bacteria on restroom surfaces. Overall, these results demonstrate that restroom surfaces host relatively diverse microbial communities dominated by human-associated bacteria with clear linkages between communities on or in different body sites and those communities found on restroom surfaces. More generally, this work is relevant to the public health field as we show that human-associated microbes are commonly found on restroom surfaces suggesting that bacterial pathogens could readily be transmitted between individuals by the touching of surfaces. Furthermore, we demonstrate that we can use high-throughput analyses of bacterial communities to determine sources of bacteria on indoor surfaces, an approach which could be used to track pathogen transmission and test the efficacy of hygiene practices.

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          Most cited references 27

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          A molecular view of microbial diversity and the biosphere.

           N Pace (1997)
          Over three decades of molecular-phylogenetic studies, researchers have compiled an increasingly robust map of evolutionary diversification showing that the main diversity of life is microbial, distributed among three primary relatedness groups or domains: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya. The general properties of representatives of the three domains indicate that the earliest life was based on inorganic nutrition and that photosynthesis and use of organic compounds for carbon and energy metabolism came comparatively later. The application of molecular-phylogenetic methods to study natural microbial ecosystems without the traditional requirement for cultivation has resulted in the discovery of many unexpected evolutionary lineages; members of some of these lineages are only distantly related to known organisms but are sufficiently abundant that they are likely to have impact on the chemistry of the biosphere.
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            Comparative Analysis of Pyrosequencing and a Phylogenetic Microarray for Exploring Microbial Community Structures in the Human Distal Intestine

            Background Variations in the composition of the human intestinal microbiota are linked to diverse health conditions. High-throughput molecular technologies have recently elucidated microbial community structure at much higher resolution than was previously possible. Here we compare two such methods, pyrosequencing and a phylogenetic array, and evaluate classifications based on two variable 16S rRNA gene regions. Methods and Findings Over 1.75 million amplicon sequences were generated from the V4 and V6 regions of 16S rRNA genes in bacterial DNA extracted from four fecal samples of elderly individuals. The phylotype richness, for individual samples, was 1,400–1,800 for V4 reads and 12,500 for V6 reads, and 5,200 unique phylotypes when combining V4 reads from all samples. The RDP-classifier was more efficient for the V4 than for the far less conserved and shorter V6 region, but differences in community structure also affected efficiency. Even when analyzing only 20% of the reads, the majority of the microbial diversity was captured in two samples tested. DNA from the four samples was hybridized against the Human Intestinal Tract (HIT) Chip, a phylogenetic microarray for community profiling. Comparison of clustering of genus counts from pyrosequencing and HITChip data revealed highly similar profiles. Furthermore, correlations of sequence abundance and hybridization signal intensities were very high for lower-order ranks, but lower at family-level, which was probably due to ambiguous taxonomic groupings. Conclusions The RDP-classifier consistently assigned most V4 sequences from human intestinal samples down to genus-level with good accuracy and speed. This is the deepest sequencing of single gastrointestinal samples reported to date, but microbial richness levels have still not leveled out. A majority of these diversities can also be captured with five times lower sampling-depth. HITChip hybridizations and resulting community profiles correlate well with pyrosequencing-based compositions, especially for lower-order ranks, indicating high robustness of both approaches. However, incompatible grouping schemes make exact comparison difficult.
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              Metagenomic and small-subunit rRNA analyses reveal the genetic diversity of bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses in soil.

              Recent studies have highlighted the surprising richness of soil bacterial communities; however, bacteria are not the only microorganisms found in soil. To our knowledge, no study has compared the diversities of the four major microbial taxa, i.e., bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses, from an individual soil sample. We used metagenomic and small-subunit RNA-based sequence analysis techniques to compare the estimated richness and evenness of these groups in prairie, desert, and rainforest soils. By grouping sequences at the 97% sequence similarity level (an operational taxonomic unit [OTU]), we found that the archaeal and fungal communities were consistently less even than the bacterial communities. Although total richness levels are difficult to estimate with a high degree of certainty, the estimated number of unique archaeal or fungal OTUs appears to rival or exceed the number of unique bacterial OTUs in each of the collected soils. In this first study to comprehensively survey viral communities using a metagenomic approach, we found that soil viruses are taxonomically diverse and distinct from the communities of viruses found in other environments that have been surveyed using a similar approach. Within each of the four microbial groups, we observed minimal taxonomic overlap between sites, suggesting that soil archaea, bacteria, fungi, and viruses are globally as well as locally diverse.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1932-6203
                2011
                23 November 2011
                : 6
                : 11
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States of America
                [2 ]Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States of America
                [3 ]Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States of America
                [4 ]Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States of America
                [5 ]Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States of America
                Auburn University, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: STB CLL NF. Analyzed the data: GEF DK JS RK NF. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: RK NF. Wrote the paper: GEF NF. Sample collection: STB CLL.

                Article
                PONE-D-11-17782
                10.1371/journal.pone.0028132
                3223236
                22132229
                Flores et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 7
                Categories
                Research Article
                Biology
                Computational Biology
                Sequence Analysis
                Ecology
                Community Ecology
                Community Assembly
                Community Structure
                Biogeography
                Microbial Ecology
                Microbiology
                Bacterial Pathogens
                Staphylococci
                Streptococci
                Bacteriology
                Bacterial Taxonomy
                Microbial Ecology
                Medicine
                Public Health

                Uncategorized

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