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Development of an In Vitro Fermentation Model to Culture the Human Distal Gut Microbiota

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Title: Development of an In Vitro Fermentation Model to Culture the Human Distal Gut Microbiota
Author: McDonald, Julie
Department: Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Program: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Advisor: Allen-Vercoe, Emma
Abstract: In vitro gut models provide several advantages over in vivo models for the study of the human gut microbiota. However, because communities developed in these models are simplified simulations of the in vivo environment it is necessary to characterize the reproducibility, repeatability and stability of cultured communities. We also need to broadly define the differences between in vitro consortia and the communities from which they are derived. In this study we characterized and validated a twin-vessel (independent, identical) single-stage chemostat model of the human distal gut. Samples were analyzed using a molecular fingerprinting technique (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis) to compare and monitor changes in the overall structure of the communities while a phylogenetic microarray (Human Intestinal Tract Chip) was used to obtain phylogenetic information. We found that twin-vessels inoculated with feces developed and maintained diverse communities that reached stable compositions by at most 36 days post-inoculation. Communities were enriched in Bacteroidetes but not Clostridium cluster XIVa, Bacilli or other Firmicutes relative to the fecal inocula. Vessels were very reproducible when inoculated with identical fecal inocula, less similar when inoculated with consecutive fecal donations from the same donor, and maintained donor-specific identities when inoculated with feces from different donors. Norepinephrine exposure (undefined perturbation) did not appear to have a substantial effect on the structure of chemostat communities, while clindamycin treatment (defined perturbation) caused large changes in the structure of chemostat communities. Packed-column biofilm reactors incorporated a simulated mucosal environment into our chemostat system, allowing us to simultaneously culture biologically relevant planktonic and biofilm communities that were complex, reproducible, and distinct. Defined communities were comparable to fecal communities at the phylum/class-level but established stable compositions more rapidly. While it was difficult to assess the persistence of synthetic stool in a healthy fecal chemostat community (+/- antibiotic perturbation), mixing communities from two donors resulted in a mixed community that more closely resembled one donor over the other. Although future experimentation is required, the results presented here show our twin-vessel single-stage chemostat model represents a valid simulation of the human distal gut environment and can support complex, representative microbial communities ideal for experimental manipulation.
Date: 2013-05

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