The Skin Microbiome in Healthy and Allergic Dogs
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Changes in the microbial populations on the skin of animals have traditionally been evaluated using conventional microbiology techniques. The sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA genes has revealed that the human skin is inhabited by a highly diverse and variable microbiome that had previously not been demonstrated by culture-based methods. The goals of this study were to describe the microbiome inhabiting different areas of the canine skin, and to compare the skin microbiome of healthy and allergic dogs. DNA extracted from superficial skin swabs from healthy (n = 12) and allergic dogs (n = 6) from different regions of haired skin and mucosal surfaces were used for 454-pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. Principal coordinates analysis revealed clustering for the different skin sites across all dogs, with some mucosal sites and the perianal regions clustering separately from the haired skin sites. The rarefaction analysis revealed high individual variability between samples collected from healthy dogs and between the different skin sites. Higher species richness and microbial diversity were observed in the samples from haired skin when compared to mucosal surfaces or mucocutaneous junctions. In all examined regions, the most abundant phylum and family identified in the different regions of skin and mucosal surfaces were Proteobacteria and Oxalobacteriaceae. The skin of allergic dogs had lower species richness when compared to the healthy dogs. The allergic dogs had lower proportions of the Betaproteobacteria Ralstonia spp. when compared to the healthy dogs. The study demonstrates that the skin of dogs is inhabited by much more rich and diverse microbial communities than previously thought using culture-based methods. Our sequence data reveal high individual variability between samples collected from different patients. Differences in species richness was also seen between healthy and allergic dogs, with allergic dogs having lower species richness when compared to healthy dogs.
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