Cerumen microbial community shifts between healthy and otitis affected dogs
Otitis externa is a common multifactorial disease in dogs, characterized by broad and complex modifications of the ear microbiota. The goal of our study was to describe the ear cerumen microbiota of healthy dogs, within the same animal and between different animals, and to compare the cerumen microbiota of otitis affected dogs with that of healthy animals. The present study included 26 healthy dogs, 16 animals affected by bilateral otitis externa and 4 animals affected by monolateral otitis
... olateral otitis externa. For each animal cerumen samples from the right and left ear were separately collected with sterile swabs, and processed for DNA extraction and PCR amplification of the 16S rRNA gene. Amplicon libraries were sequenced using an Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine (PGM), and taxonomical assignment and clustering were performed using QIIME 2 software. Our results indicate that the bacterial community of the cerumen in healthy dogs was characterized by extensive variability, with the most abundant phyla represented by Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes and Fusobacteria. The analysis of both alpha and beta diversity between pairs of left and right ear samples from the same dog within the group of affected animals displayed higher differences than between paired samples across healthy dogs. Moreover we observed reduced bacterial richness in the affected group as compared with controls and increased variability in population structure within otitis affected animals, often associated with the proliferation of a single bacterial taxon over the others. Moreover, Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas resulted to be the bacterial genera responsible for most distances between the two groups, in association with differences in the bacterial community structure. The cerumen microbiota in healthy dogs exhibits a complex bacterial population which undergoes significant modifications in otitis affected animals.