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Ocul Surf. 2019 Jan;17(1):111-118. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2018.11.005. Epub 2018 Nov 13.

Biogeography of the human ocular microbiota.

Author information

1
School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Electronic address: j.ozkan@unsw.edu.au.
2
School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
3
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Department of Genomic and Applied Microbiology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.
4
Ocular Plastics Unit, Department of Ophthalmology, Prince of Wales Hospital, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
5
Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
6
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The human eye is composed of numerous microhabitats. The aim of this study was to understand the communality and differences in the microbiomes of various regions of the eye.

METHODS:

Four ocular sites from different subject groups were assessed including the eyelid margin tissue from patients with lid abnormalities (n = 20), fornix and limbus conjunctival tissue from patients with pterygia (n = 23), ocular (conjunctival) surface swabs (n = 45) and facial skin swabs (n = 16). Microbial communities were analysed by extracting total DNA from samples and sequencing the 16S ribosomal(r)RNA gene using the Illumina MiSeq platform. Sequences were quality filtered, clustered into unique sequences (zOTUs) using the UNOISE pipeline in USEARCH and taxonomically classified using SILVA.

RESULTS:

A difference in bacterial richness and diversity was found between sites (P < 0.001) and for age (P < 0.035) but not for sex (P > 0.05). There was a difference in bacterial community structure and composition between sites (P < 0.001). Bacterial distribution could be broadly classified into three groups - zOTUs resident on the skin and lid margin but with low abundances at other sites (Corynebacterium, Staphylococcus), zOTUs found mainly on the ocular surface (Acinetobacter, Aeribacillus) and zOTUs mostly present in the conjunctiva and lid margin (Pseudomonas).

CONCLUSION:

The microhabitats of the human eye (ocular surface, conjunctiva, lid margin and skin) have a distinct bacterial biogeography with some bacteria shared between multiple regions while other bacteria occupy a more confined niche.

KEYWORDS:

16S r RNA gene sequencing; Conjunctiva; Lid margin; Ocular microbiome

PMID:
30445178
DOI:
10.1016/j.jtos.2018.11.005

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