Insights into the pan-microbiome: skin microbial communities of Chinese individuals differ from other racial groups

Sci Rep. 2015 Jul 16;5:11845. doi: 10.1038/srep11845.


Many studies have characterized microbiomes of western individuals. However, studies involving non-westerners are scarce. This study characterizes the skin microbiomes of Chinese individuals. Skin-associated genera, including Propionibacterium, Corynebacterium, Staphylococcus, and Enhydrobacter were prevalent. Extensive inter-individual microbiome variations were detected, with core genera present in all individuals constituting a minority of genera detected. Species-level analyses presented dominance of potential opportunistic pathogens in respective genera. Host properties including age, gender, and household were associated with variations in community structure. For all sampled sites, skin microbiomes within an individual is more similar than that of different co-habiting individuals, which is in turn more similar than individuals living in different households. Network analyses highlighted general and skin-site specific relationships between genera. Comparison of microbiomes from different population groups revealed race-based clustering explained by community membership (Global R = 0.968) and structure (Global R = 0.589), contributing to enlargement of the skin pan-microbiome. This study provides the foundation for subsequent in-depth characterization and microbial interactive analyses on the skin and other parts of the human body in different racial groups, and an appreciation that the human skin pan-microbiome can be much larger than that of a single population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group*
  • China
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbiota*
  • Skin / microbiology*