Effects of vendor and genetic background on the composition of the fecal microbiota of inbred mice

PLoS One. 2015 Feb 12;10(2):e0116704. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116704. eCollection 2015.


The commensal gut microbiota has been implicated as a determinant in several human diseases and conditions. There is mounting evidence that the gut microbiota of laboratory mice (Mus musculus) similarly modulates the phenotype of mouse models used to study human disease and development. While differing model phenotypes have been reported using mice purchased from different vendors, the composition and uniformity of the fecal microbiota in mice of various genetic backgrounds from different vendors is unclear. Using culture-independent methods and robust statistical analysis, we demonstrate significant differences in the richness and diversity of fecal microbial populations in mice purchased from two large commercial vendors. Moreover, the abundance of many operational taxonomic units, often identified to the species level, as well as several higher taxa, differed in vendor- and strain-dependent manners. Such differences were evident in the fecal microbiota of weanling mice and persisted throughout the study, to twenty-four weeks of age. These data provide the first in-depth analysis of the developmental trajectory of the fecal microbiota in mice from different vendors, and a starting point from which researchers may be able to refine animal models affected by differences in the gut microbiota and thus possibly reduce the number of animals required to perform studies with sufficient statistical power.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory*
  • Biodiversity
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Metagenome
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains / genetics*
  • Mice, Inbred Strains / microbiology*
  • Microbiota*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Associated data

  • SRA/PRJNA263829