The human urinary microbiome; bacterial DNA in voided urine of asymptomatic adults

Debbie A. Lewis, Richard Brown, Jon Williams, Paul White, S. Kim Jacobson, Julian R. Marchesi, Marcus Drake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

137 Citations (Scopus)
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The urinary microbiome of healthy individuals and the way it alters with ageing have not been characterised and may influence disease processes. Conventional microbiological methods have limited scope to capture the full spectrum of urinary bacterial species. We studied the urinary microbiota from a population of healthy individuals, ranging from 26 to 90 years of age, by amplification of the 16S rRNA gene, with resulting amplicons analysed by 454 pyrosequencing. Mid-stream urine was collected by the ‘clean-catch’ method. Quantitative PCR of 16S rRNA genes in urine samples, allowed relative enumeration of the bacterial loads. Analysis of the samples indicates that females had a more heterogeneous mix of bacterial genera compared to the male samples and generally had representative members of the phyla Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes. Analysis of the data leads us to conclude that a ‘core’ urinary microbiome could potentially exist, when samples are grouped by age with fluctuation in abundance between age groups. The study also revealed age-specific genera Jonquetella, Parvimonas, Proteiniphilum and Saccharofermentans. In conclusion, conventional microbiological methods are inadequate to fully identify around two-thirds of the bacteria identified in this study. Whilst this proof-of-principle study has limitations due to the sample size, the discoveries evident in this sample data are strongly suggestive that a larger study on the urinary microbiome should be encouraged and that the identification of specific genera at particular ages may be relevant to pathogenesis of clinical conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number41
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Early online date25 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Surgical Research


  • bladder microbiome
  • pyrosequencing
  • urinary microbiome
  • bladder disease
  • microbiological methods

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