The microbial communities in male first catch urine are highly similar to those in paired urethral swab specimens

PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e19709. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019709. Epub 2011 May 13.


Urine is the CDC-recommended specimen for STI testing. It was unknown if the bacterial communities (microbiomes) in urine reflected those in the distal male urethra. We compared microbiomes of 32 paired urine and urethral swab specimens obtained from adult men attending an STD clinic, by 16S rRNA PCR and deep pyrosequencing. Microbiomes of urine and swabs were remarkably similar, regardless of STI status of the subjects. Thus, urine can be used to characterize urethral microbiomes when swabs are undesirable, such as in population-based studies of the urethral microbiome or where multiple sampling of participants is required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metagenome / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / microbiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / urine
  • Urethra / microbiology*
  • Urine / microbiology*
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S