Studying bacterial infections through culture-independent approaches

Molecular Microbiology Research Laboratory, Pharmaceutical Science Division, Franklin-Wilkins Building, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK.
Journal of Medical Microbiology (Impact Factor: 2.27). 06/2009; 58(Pt 11):1401-18. DOI: 10.1099/jmm.0.013334-0
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The ability to characterize accurately the cause of infection is fundamental to effective treatment. The impact of any antimicrobial agents used to treat infection will, however, always be constrained by both the appropriateness of their use and our ability to determine their effectiveness. Traditional culture-based diagnostic microbiology is, in many cases, unable to provide this information. Molecular microbiological approaches that assess the content of clinical samples in a culture-independent manner promise to change dramatically the types of data that are obtained routinely from clinical samples. We argue that, in addition to the technical advance that these methodologies offer, a conceptual advance in the way that we reflect on the information generated is also required. Through the development of both of these advances, our understanding of infection, as well as the ways in which infections can be treated, may be improved. In the analysis of the microbiological content of certain clinical samples, such as blood, cerebrospinal fluid, brain and bone biopsy, culture-independent approaches have been well documented. Herein, we discuss how extensions to such studies can shape our understanding of infection at the many sites of the human body where a mixed flora, or in more ecological terms, a community of microbes, is present. To do this, we consider the underlying principles that underpin diagnostic systems, describe the ways in which these systems can be applied to community characterization, and discuss the significance of the data generated. We propose that at all locations within the human body where infection is routinely initiated within the context of a community of microbes, the same principles will apply. To consider this further, we take insights from areas such as the gut, oral cavity and skin. The main focus here is understanding respiratory tract infection, and specifically the infections of the cystic fibrosis lung. The impact that the use of culture-independent, molecular analyses will have on the way we approach the treatment of infections is also considered.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Analysis of bacterial populations in situ provides insights into pathogen population dynamics and potential reservoirs for disease. Here we report a culture-independent study of ovine footrot (FR); a debilitating bacterial disease that has significant economic impact on sheep farming worldwide. Disease begins as an interdigital dermatitis (ID), which may then progress to separation of the hoof horn from the underlying epidermis causing severe footrot (SFR). Dichelobacter nodosus is the causative agent of ovine FR, however, the role of Fusobacterium necrophorum and other bacteria present in the environment and on the feet of sheep is less clear. The objective of this study was to use fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) to detect, localise and quantify D. nodosus, F. necrophorum and the domain Bacteria from interdigital skin biopsies of healthy, ID- and SFR-affected feet. D. nodosus and F. necrophorum populations were restricted primarily to the epidermis, but both were detected more frequently in feet with ID or SFR than in healthy feet. D. nodosus cell counts were significantly higher in feet with ID and SFR (p<0.05) than healthy feet, whereas F. necrophorum cell counts were significantly higher only in feet with SFR (p<0.05) than healthy feet. These results, together with other published data, indicate that D. nodosus likely drives pathogenesis of footrot from initiation of ID to SFR; with D. nodosus cell counts increasing prior to onset of ID and SFR. In contrast, F. necrophorum cell counts increase after SFR onset, which may suggest an accessory role in disease pathogenesis, possibly contributing to the severity and duration of SFR. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Veterinary Microbiology 02/2015; 176(3-4). DOI:10.1016/j.vetmic.2015.01.022 · 2.73 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Routine clinical diagnostics of CF patients focus only on a restricted set of well-known pathogenic species. Recent molecular studies suggest that infections could be polymicrobial with many bacteria not detected by culture-based diagnostics. A large cohort of 56 adults with continuous antibiotic treatment was studied and different microbial diagnostic methods were compared, including culture-independent and culture-based bacterial diagnostics. A total of 72 sputum samples including longitudinal observations was analysed by 16S rRNA gene sequence comparison. Prevalence of known pathogens was highly similar among all methods but the vast spectrum of bacteria associated with CF was only revealed by culture-independent techniques. The sequence comparison enabled confident determination of the bacterial community composition and revealed a high diversity and individuality in the communities across the cohort. Results of microbiological analyses were further compared with individual host factors, such as age, lung function and CFTR genotype. No statistical relationship between these factors and the diversity of the entire community or single bacterial species could be identified. However, patients with non-ΔF508 mutations in the CFTR gene often had low abundances of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Persistence of specific bacteria in some communities was demonstrated by longitudinal analyses of 13 patients indicating a potential clinical relevance of anaerobic bacteria, such as Fusobacterium nucleatum and Streptococcus millerii. The high individuality in community composition and the lack of correlation to clinical host factors might be due to the continuous treatment with antibiotics. Since this is current practice for adult CF patients, the life-long history of the patient and the varying selection pressure on the related microbial communities should be a focus of future studies and its relation to disease progression. These studies should be substantially larger, providing more molecular information on the microbial communities complemented by detailed genetic assessment of the host.
    PLoS ONE 01/2015; 10(2):e0117436. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0117436 · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Upper airway diseases including allergic rhinitis, chronic rhinosinusitis with or without polyps, and cystic fibrosis are characterized by substantially different inflammatory profiles. Traditionally, studies on the association of specific bacterial patterns with inflammatory profiles of diseases had been dependent on bacterial culturing. In the past 30 years, molecular biology methods have allowed bacterial culture free studies of microbial communities, revealing microbiota much more diverse than previously recognized including those found in the upper airway. At presence, the study of the pathophysiology of upper airway diseases is necessary to establish the relationship between the microbiome and inflammatory patterns to find their clinical reflections and also their possible causal relationships. Such investigations may elucidate the path to therapeutic approaches in correcting an imbalanced microbiome. In the review we summarized techniques used and the current knowledge on the microbiome of upper airway diseases, the limitations and pitfalls, and identified areas of interest for further research. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40413-014-0048-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    World Allergy Organization Journal 01/2015; 8(1):3. DOI:10.1186/s40413-014-0048-6


Available from