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Microbiome. 2014 Aug 11;2:27. doi: 10.1186/2049-2618-2-27. eCollection 2014.

The nasal cavity microbiota of healthy adults.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Michigan, 1510 MSRB I SPC 5666, 1150 W. Medical Center Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5666, USA.
Department of Otolaryngology, University of Cincinnati, Medical Sciences Building, 231 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0528, USA.
Department of Otolaryngology, University of Michigan, 1500 E. Medical Center Drive, Taubman Center 1904, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0312, USA.



The microbiota of the nares has been widely studied. However, relatively few studies have investigated the microbiota of the nasal cavity posterior to the nares. This distinct environment has the potential to contain a distinct microbiota and play an important role in health.


We obtained 35,142 high-quality bacterial 16S rRNA-encoding gene sequence reads from the nasal cavity and oral cavity (the dorsum of the tongue and the buccal mucosa) of 12 healthy adult humans and deposited these data in the Sequence Read Archive (SRA) of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) (Bioproject: PRJNA248297). In our initial analysis, we compared the bacterial communities of the nasal cavity and the oral cavity from ten of these subjects. The nasal cavity bacterial communities were dominated by Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria and were statistically distinct from those on the tongue and buccal mucosa. For example, the same Staphylococcaceae operational taxonomic unit (OTU) was present in all of the nasal cavity samples, comprising up to 55% of the community, but Staphylococcaceae was comparatively uncommon in the oral cavity.


There are clear differences between nasal cavity microbiota and oral cavity microbiota in healthy adults. This study expands our knowledge of the nasal cavity microbiota and the relationship between the microbiota of the nasal and oral cavities.


Buccal mucosa; Culture-independent; Microbiota; Nasal cavity; Oral cavity; Tongue

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