Quantitation of major human cutaneous bacterial and fungal populations

Zhan Gao, Guillermo I. Perez-Perez, Yu Chen, Martin J. Blaser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Because the human skin microbiota may play roles in the causation or modification of skin diseases, we sought to provide initial quantitative analysis from different cutaneous locations. We developed quantitative PCRs to enumerate the total bacterial and fungal populations, as well as the most common bacterial and fungal genera present in six locales, in eight healthy subjects. We used a set of primers and TaqMan MGB probes based on the bacterial 16S rRNA and fungal internally transcribed spacer region, as well as bacterial genus-specific probes for Propionibacterium, Corynebacterium, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus and a fungal genus-specific probe for Malassezia. The extent of human DNA contamination of the specimen was determined by quantitating the human housekeeping GAPDH gene. The highest level of 16S rRNA copies of bacteria was present in the axilla (4.44 ± 0.18 log 10 copies/μl [mean ± standard error of the mean]), with normalization based on GAPDH levels, but the other five locations were similar to one another (range, 2.48 to 2.89 log 10 copies/μl). There was strong symmetry between the left and right sides. The four bacterial genera accounted for 31% to 59% of total bacteria, with the highest percent composition in the axilla and the lowest in the forearm. Streptococcus was the most common genus present on the forehead and behind the ear. Corynebacterium spp. were predominant in the axilla. Fungal levels were 1 to 2 log 10 lower than for bacteria, with Malassezia spp. accounting for the majority of fungal gene copies. These results provide the first quantitation of the site and host specificities of major bacterial and fungal populations in human skin and present simple methods for their assessment in studies of disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3575-3581
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Volume48
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)

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