Molecular ecological surveys of the human gut microbiota to date have focused on the prokaryotic fraction of the community and have revealed a remarkable degree of bacterial diversity and functionality. However, there is a dearth of information on the eukaryotic composition of the microbiota, and no culture-independent sequence-based surveys of human faeces are available. Culture-independent analyses based on DNA extraction and polymerase chain reaction targeting both the total eukaryotic 18S rRNA genes and fungal internal transcribed regions (ITS), together with culture-dependent analyses of fungi, were performed on a group of healthy volunteers. Temporal analysis was also included wherever possible. Collectively, the data presented in this study indicate that eukaryotic diversity of the human gut is low, largely temporally stable and predominated by different subtypes of Blastocystis. Specific analyses of the fungal populations indicate that a disparity exists between the cultivable fraction, which is dominated by Candida sp, and culture-independent analysis, where sequences identical to members of the genera Gloeotinia/Paecilomyces and Galactomyces were most frequently retrieved from both fungal ITS profiles and subsequent clone libraries. Collectively, these results highlight the presence of unprecedented intestinal eukaryotic inhabitants whose functional roles are as yet unknown in healthy individuals. Furthermore, differences between results obtained from traditionally employed culture-based methods and those obtained from culture-independent techniques highlight similar anomalies to that encountered when first analysing the bacterial diversity of the human faecal microbiota using culture-independent surveys.
University College Cork ->