Microbial communities of Mt. Prindle, AK-canine oral microbiome


Non-technical summary

Have you ever heard the idea that your dog’s mouth is cleaner than yours? Well that very well may not be true. A dog’s mouth, similar to yours and other humans’, has its own diverse array of microbes living inside; all of these microbes living together is known as a microbiome. Microbiomes are known to be influenced by many factors including genetics of the host and the environment, with perhaps the most important environmental factor being what we eat. Human microbiomes have been a popular area of study for scientists in recent times, and although a fair amount is known about the human microbiome, very little is known about microbiomes of other mammals. Many scientists are interested in what microbes are living in a dog’s mouth for two reasons: first, to see how similar the microbes are to those living in humans, and second, to allow veterinarians and doctors to learn more about how disease and health problems are related to the dog’s microbiome. This paper set out to compare and discover distinctions and similarities in bacteria colonizing dog and human mouths. By collecting plaque from the teeth of over 50 dogs, scientists were able to extract and analyze DNA samples from the microbial creatures living in the plaque. This study compared specific DNA sequences of the microbes from dogs to those in humans, and found a very small amount of overlap in microbiomes–only 16.4%! In this study scientists found thousands of   of bacteria that have not been already identified to the species level, but are known not to be found in humans. More research on this topic could help scientists discover new microbes and possibly even learn about how they affect your dog’s health, and maybe even yours!


Technical summary

Over recent years, interest has grown in the field of analyzing interactions and fluxes of microbes living in specific environments. Scientists have conducted ground-breaking research in the microbiomes of humans and are beginning to expand into research of other mammals. This paper aimed to discover similarities and distinctions between human and canine oral microbiomes. This study offers a unique comparison between two divergent mammalian species and the microbiomes associated. Scientists, as well as veterinarians and medical professionals, are interested in the bacterial communities of canines, in order to investigate their relations to disease and health issues. This was done by first determining the diversity and abundance of microbial life existing in the canine oral cavity. By using 16S rRNA sequence comparison they were able to analyze 5,958 rRNA gene sequences from 353 different bacterial taxa found in the canine oral cavity. Of those 353 taxa, over 80% are currently unnamed. In order to compare between human and canine microbiomes a similarity cutoff of 98.5% was used, resulting in only 16.4% similarity between the two oral microbiomes. These results are significant for they offer a basis for continued study of canine oral microbiome diversity. Since a large majority of the discovered taxa remain unnamed, future research can focus on further categorization and identification.

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