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2011 OMIG Abstract 7

The ocular surface microbiome: Indigenous communities colonize the healthy
cornea and conjunctiva

V.I. Shestopalov1A,1B O. Thanahantee1A, A. Galor1A, Q. Dong2, E. Toh3, D. Nelson3, L. Akileswaran4A, J. Shendure4B, R. Rong2, D. Miller1A, R.N. Van Gelder4A, T. O’Brien1A
1A Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL, 1BCell Biology and Anatomy University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL, 2Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, 3Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 4ADepartment of Ophthalmology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 4BDepartment of Genome Science, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Purpose: Infections of the ocular surface (OS) are a common clinical problem studied worldwide; however, the composition of indigenous microbiota colonizing the cornea and conjunctiva remains poorly characterized.

Methods: This study assessed microbial diversity and community structure of the OS in healthy eyes using deep sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicon libraries and a biome representational in silico karyotyping (BRISK).

Results: Conjunctival swab and corneal epithelium samples were collected from two cohorts: healthy volunteers (4 male eyes, age 38±12) and patients undergoing epiLASIK surgery with mechanical epithelial delamination (16 eyes total: 6 males, age 56±13, 7 females, age 59±19). We detected significantly higher diversity and abundance of bacterial genera on the conjunctiva vs. cornea.  Conjunctiva harbored 59 bacterial genera from 5 phyla, where 12 were ubiquitous and comprised >98% of the entire community. The corneal community consisted of 5 phyla, 56 genera, with 5 ubiquitous and 10 highly prevalent among same-gender subjects. Among top 20 genera, 10 were cornea-specific, 11 conjunctiva-specific, and 9 were present on both tissues. Genders differed significantly in bacterial alpha-diversity, which was three-fold higher in female vs. males. Bilateral sampling and re-sampling the same subject have confirmed high concordance, evidence of the robustness of the deep sequencing technology. In addition to known bacteria, approximately 30% of 16S rRNA-detected bacteria and up to 90% of BRISK-detected sequences belonged to unclassified or novel species.

Conclusions: Our analysis disclosed that corneal and conjunctival epithelia are colonized by unexpectedly diverse and distinct microbiomes, a potential new factor for consideration and further study in ocular health and disease.

Support: EY019974 (VIS); RC2HG005806-01 (Q.D. & D.N.), Burroughs-Wellcome Foundation (RVG); P30 EY014801 and an unrestricted RPB grant (Department of Ophthalmology)

Disclosures: S

2011 Abstract List | < Previous | Next >