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Sisinthy Shivaji, Rajagopalaboopathi Jayasudha, Gumpili Sai Prashanthi, Sama Kalyana Chakravarthy, Savitri Sharma; The Human Ocular Surface Fungal Microbiome. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(1):451-459. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-26076.
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To enumerate the ocular surface fungal microbiome of healthy human eyes by using next-generation sequencing (NGS).
Tarsal and fornix conjunctiva from the lower and upper lids of both eyes of healthy individuals were swabbed in duplicate separately. A total of 34 samples were collected from both the eyes of 17 individuals, which were used for the generation of ocular surface fungal microbiomes by NGS. Twenty-four swabs were used for the detection of culturable fungi by the conventional cultivable method. Microbiome generation involved DNA extraction, internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) amplification, library preparation, amplicon sequencing, taxonomic assignment of sequences, diversity analyses, and identification of genera.
The cultivable method detected fungi in 3 out of 24 (12.5 %) ocular surface swabs, whereas NGS identified fungi in 25 of the 34 (73.5 %) swabs. In the cultivable method Aspergillus was the only genus detected, whereas NGS detected 65 distinct genera with 12 to 24 genera per microbiome. Genera Aspergillus, Setosphaeria, Malassezia, and Haematonectria were present in the 25 eyes in which fungi were detected. Alpha diversity in the two eyes was similar and sex had no effect, but Chao1 and Simpson indices were altered by age.
This study explored the ocular surface fungal microbiome of healthy individuals using NGS and identified a greater degree of diversity of fungi than with the conventional cultivable method. It was observed that several fungal genera were associated with the healthy conjunctiva.
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