Nasal Tissue Extraction Is Essential for Characterization of the Murine Upper Respiratory Tract Microbiota

mSphere. 2020 Dec 16;5(6):e00562-20. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00562-20.


Respiratory infections are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Bacterial pathogens often colonize the upper respiratory tract (nose or mouth) prior to causing lower respiratory infections or invasive disease. Interactions within the upper respiratory tract between colonizing bacteria and the resident microbiota could contribute to colonization success and subsequent transmission. Human carriage studies have identified associations between pathogens such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and members of the resident microbiota, although few mechanisms of competition and cooperation have been identified and would be aided by the use of animal models. Little is known about the composition of the murine nasal microbiota; thus, we set out to improve assessment, including tissue sampling, composition, and comparison between mouse sources. Nasal washes were efficient in sampling the nasopharyngeal space but barely disrupted the nasal turbinates. Nasal tissue extraction increased the yield of cultivable bacterial compared to nasal washes, revealing distinct community compositions. Experimental pneumococcal colonization led to dominance by the colonizing pathogen in the nasopharynx and nasal turbinates, but the composition of the microbiota, and interactions with resident microbes, differed depending on the sampling method. Importantly, vendor source has a large impact on microbial composition. Bacterial interactions, including cooperation and colonization resistance, depend on the biogeography of the nose and should be considered during research design of experimental colonization with pathogens.IMPORTANCE The nasal microbiota is composed of species that play a role in the colonization success of pathogens, including Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus Murine models provide the ability to explore disease pathogenesis, but little is known about the natural murine nasal microbiota. This study established techniques to allow the exploration of the bacterial members of the nasal microbiota. The mouse nasal microbiota included traditional respiratory bacteria, including Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Moraxella species. Analyses were affected by different sampling methods as well as the commercial source of the mice, which should be included in future research design of infectious disease research.

Keywords: Streptococcus pneumoniae; colonization; microbiota; upper respiratory tract.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microbiota*
  • Nasal Cavity / microbiology
  • Nose / microbiology*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / physiology*

Grant support