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Dec 16, 2014
The ISME Journal
Delineating differences in gut microbiomes of human and animal hosts contributes towards understanding human health and enables new strategies for detecting reservoirs of waterborne human pathogens. We focused upon Blautia, a single microbial genus that is important for nutrient assimilation as preliminary work suggested host-related patterns within members of this genus. In our dataset of 57 M sequence reads of the V6 region of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene in samples collected from seven host species, we identified 200 high-resolution taxonomic units within Blautia using oligotyping. Our analysis revealed 13 host-specific oligotypes that occurred exclusively in fecal samples of humans (three oligotypes), swine (six oligotypes), cows (one oligotype), deer (one oligotype), or chickens (two oligotypes). We identified an additional 171 oligotypes that exhibited differential abundance patterns among all the host species. Blautia oligotypes in the human population obtained from sewage and fecal samples displayed remarkable continuity. Oligotypes from only 10 Brazilian human fecal samples collected from individuals in a rural village encompassed 97% of all Blautia oligotypes found in a Brazilian sewage sample from a city of three million people. Further, 75% of the oligotypes in Brazilian human fecal samples matched those in US sewage samples, implying that a universal set of Blautia strains may be shared among culturally and geographically distinct human populations. Such strains can serve as universal markers to assess human fecal contamination in environmental samples. Our results indicate that host-specificity and host-preference patterns of organisms within this genus are driven by host physiology more than dietary habits.

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