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      Microbiota of the indoor environment: a meta-analysis

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          Abstract

          Background

          As modern humans, we spend the majority of our time in indoor environments. Consequently, environmental exposure to microorganisms has important implications for human health, and a better understanding of the ecological drivers and processes that impact indoor microbial assemblages will be key for expanding our knowledge of the built environment. In the present investigation, we combined recent studies examining the microbiota of the built environment in order to identify unifying community patterns and the relative importance of indoor environmental factors. Ultimately, the present meta-analysis focused on studies of bacteria and archaea due to the limited number of high-throughput fungal studies from the indoor environment. We combined 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene datasets from 16 surveys of indoor environments conducted worldwide, additionally including 7 other studies representing putative environmental sources of microbial taxa (outdoor air, soil, and the human body).

          Results

          Combined analysis of subsets of studies that shared specific experimental protocols or indoor habitats revealed community patterns indicative of consistent source environments and environmental filtering. Additionally, we were able to identify several consistent sources for indoor microorganisms, particularly outdoor air and skin, mirroring what has been shown in individual studies. Technical variation across studies had a strong effect on comparisons of microbial community assemblages, with differences in experimental protocols limiting our ability to extensively explore the importance of, for example, sampling locality, building function and use, or environmental substrate in structuring indoor microbial communities.

          Conclusions

          We present a snapshot of an important scientific field in its early stages, where studies have tended to focus on heavy sampling in a few geographic areas. From the practical perspective, this endeavor reinforces the importance of negative “kit” controls in microbiome studies. From the perspective of understanding mechanistic processes in the built environment, this meta-analysis confirms that broad factors, such as geography and building type, structure indoor microbes. However, this exercise suggests that individual studies with common sampling techniques may be more appropriate to explore the relative importance of subtle indoor environmental factors on the indoor microbiome.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40168-015-0108-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 47

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          Meta-analyses of studies of the human microbiota.

          Our body habitat-associated microbial communities are of intense research interest because of their influence on human health. Because many studies of the microbiota are based on the same bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene target, they can, in principle, be compared to determine the relative importance of different disease/physiologic/developmental states. However, differences in experimental protocols used may produce variation that outweighs biological differences. By comparing 16S rRNA gene sequences generated from diverse studies of the human microbiota using the QIIME database, we found that variation in composition of the microbiota across different body sites was consistently larger than technical variability across studies. However, samples from different studies of the Western adult fecal microbiota generally clustered by study, and the 16S rRNA target region, DNA extraction technique, and sequencing platform produced systematic biases in observed diversity that could obscure biologically meaningful compositional differences. In contrast, systematic compositional differences in the fecal microbiota that occurred with age and between Western and more agrarian cultures were great enough to outweigh technical variation. Furthermore, individuals with ileal Crohn's disease and in their third trimester of pregnancy often resembled infants from different studies more than controls from the same study, indicating parallel compositional attributes of these distinct developmental/physiological/disease states. Together, these results show that cross-study comparisons of human microbiota are valuable when the studied parameter has a large effect size, but studies of more subtle effects on the human microbiota require carefully selected control populations and standardized protocols.
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            Architectural design influences the diversity and structure of the built environment microbiome

            Buildings are complex ecosystems that house trillions of microorganisms interacting with each other, with humans and with their environment. Understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes that determine the diversity and composition of the built environment microbiome—the community of microorganisms that live indoors—is important for understanding the relationship between building design, biodiversity and human health. In this study, we used high-throughput sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene to quantify relationships between building attributes and airborne bacterial communities at a health-care facility. We quantified airborne bacterial community structure and environmental conditions in patient rooms exposed to mechanical or window ventilation and in outdoor air. The phylogenetic diversity of airborne bacterial communities was lower indoors than outdoors, and mechanically ventilated rooms contained less diverse microbial communities than did window-ventilated rooms. Bacterial communities in indoor environments contained many taxa that are absent or rare outdoors, including taxa closely related to potential human pathogens. Building attributes, specifically the source of ventilation air, airflow rates, relative humidity and temperature, were correlated with the diversity and composition of indoor bacterial communities. The relative abundance of bacteria closely related to human pathogens was higher indoors than outdoors, and higher in rooms with lower airflow rates and lower relative humidity. The observed relationship between building design and airborne bacterial diversity suggests that we can manage indoor environments, altering through building design and operation the community of microbial species that potentially colonize the human microbiome during our time indoors.
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              Microbes in the neonatal intensive care unit resemble those found in the gut of premature infants

              Background The source inoculum of gastrointestinal tract (GIT) microbes is largely influenced by delivery mode in full-term infants, but these influences may be decoupled in very low birth weight (VLBW, <1,500 g) neonates via conventional broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment. We hypothesize the built environment (BE), specifically room surfaces frequently touched by humans, is a predominant source of colonizing microbes in the gut of premature VLBW infants. Here, we present the first matched fecal-BE time series analysis of two preterm VLBW neonates housed in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) over the first month of life. Results Fresh fecal samples were collected every 3 days and metagenomes sequenced on an Illumina HiSeq2000 device. For each fecal sample, approximately 33 swabs were collected from each NICU room from 6 specified areas: sink, feeding and intubation tubing, hands of healthcare providers and parents, general surfaces, and nurse station electronics (keyboard, mouse, and cell phone). Swabs were processed using a recently developed ‘expectation maximization iterative reconstruction of genes from the environment’ (EMIRGE) amplicon pipeline in which full-length 16S rRNA amplicons were sheared and sequenced using an Illumina platform, and short reads reassembled into full-length genes. Over 24,000 full-length 16S rRNA sequences were produced, generating an average of approximately 12,000 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) (clustered at 97% nucleotide identity) per room-infant pair. Dominant gut taxa, including Staphylococcus epidermidis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Bacteroides fragilis, and Escherichia coli, were widely distributed throughout the room environment with many gut colonizers detected in more than half of samples. Reconstructed genomes from infant gut colonizers revealed a suite of genes that confer resistance to antibiotics (for example, tetracycline, fluoroquinolone, and aminoglycoside) and sterilizing agents, which likely offer a competitive advantage in the NICU environment. Conclusions We have developed a high-throughput culture-independent approach that integrates room surveys based on full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences with metagenomic analysis of fecal samples collected from infants in the room. The approach enabled identification of discrete ICU reservoirs of microbes that also colonized the infant gut and provided evidence for the presence of certain organisms in the room prior to their detection in the gut.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                adamsri@berkeley.edu
                abateman@uoregon.edu
                holly.bik@gmail.com
                jfmeadow@gmail.com
                Journal
                Microbiome
                Microbiome
                Microbiome
                BioMed Central (London )
                2049-2618
                13 October 2015
                13 October 2015
                2015
                : 3
                Affiliations
                [ ]Plant & Microbial Biology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, 94720 CA USA
                [ ]Biology and the Built Environment Center, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Oregon, Eugene, 97403 OR USA
                [ ]UC Davis Genome Center, University of California, Davis, Davis, 95616 CA USA
                [ ]School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT UK
                Article
                108
                10.1186/s40168-015-0108-3
                4604073
                26459172
                © Adams et al. 2015

                Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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                © The Author(s) 2015

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