Mining the Mouse Microbiome

Hamann, Bailey
Recent research has revealed the significant impacts the human microbiome exerts over our health. The majority of human associated microbiota reside within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and provide a wide variety of benefits to the human body. However, disruptions within the gut microbiome, termed dysbiosis, can lead to disastrous conditions. The Ward lab has been investigating the relationship between dysbiosis in the gut and the development of Hirschsprung's-associated enterocolitis (HAEC), for which the cause is unknown. We primarily use a mouse model of HAEC, the Endothelin Receptor B-null (or Ednrb-/-) mouse. Using this mouse model, we have previously shown that compared with wild-type (WT) littermates of the same age, Ednrb-/- (mutant) mice exhibit statistically supported differences in both the content and diversity of their GI microbes. At the genus level, young Ednrb-/- mice showed a striking dominance of Staphylococcus corresponding with low abundance of Lactobacillus. The reverse was observed in WT-mice. Preliminary analysis has also revealed the genus Akkermansia to be found only in WT-mice [unpublished data]. The Ward lab also studies the effects of frequent antibiotic use on GI microbes in mice. This research revealed that Lactobacillus was predominantly associated with mice resistant to chemically induced colitis and species of Akkermansia were depleted in mice displaying severe symptoms of colitis. Staphylococcus was found in both instances. Given the potential importance of these genera in the gut microbiome, future in vitro experiments will require isolated strains of Lactobacillus, Staphylococcus, and Akkermansia. The research presented here describes the isolation and identification of Staphylococcus and Lactobacillus species collected from the feces of WT and Ednrb-/- mice.
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