Mining the Mouse Microbiome

Hamann, Bailey
The significant impact of the human gut microbiome on our health has been recently discovered. The majority of microbiota reside within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and provide a wide variety of benefits to the human body. However, disruptions within the gut microbiome can lead to disastrous conditions. We have been investigating the relationship between disruptions in the gut microbiome 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 significant 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. We also study 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, whereas species of Akkermansia were found mostly 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 two Staphylococcus species collected from the feces of Ednrb-/- mice.
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