Co-housing of Mice Leads to Compositional Homogenization of Microbiota Between 7 and 21 Days
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The mammalian gut is inhabited by a dense population of microbes, including bacteria, which have been shown to play an important role in host health and immunity. The population of these microbes, known as the microbiome, is affected by a variety of factors including host genetics. This experiment investigated the effect that co-housing genetically-identical mice had on the composition the their microbiomes. Littermate mice from Jackson laboratory and Taconic farms were housed in the same cage. Littermates of each strain kept separate as a control. Genomic DNA was collected from the mice in the form of fecal samples, over the course of 28 days. The bacterial populations in the samples were analyzed using the Illumina 16sRNA sequencing platform, and MOTHUR analysis software. Initial results indicate that the Jackson microbiome had a large effect on the composition of the Taconic microbiome, resulting in homogenization of the populations after roughly 21 days. This result was unexpected, as previous studies have suggested that co-housing between mice of the same species from different breeders leads to both of the strains mutually affecting one another. This result suggests new ideas about the mechanism behind transfer of intestinal bacteria, and important information regarding disease models in mice.