Airway microbiota and pathogen abundance in age-stratified cystic fibrosis patients

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Martin Allgaier
  • Byron Taylor
  • Marshall S Baek
  • Yvonne J Huang
  • Rebecca A Daly
  • Ulas Karaoz
  • Gary L Andersen
  • Ronald Brown
  • Kei E Fujimura
  • Brian Wu
  • Diem Tran
  • Jonathan Koff
  • Mary Ellen Kleinhenz
  • Dennis Nielson
  • Eoin L Brodie
  • Susan V Lynch

Colleges, School and Institutes


Bacterial communities in the airways of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients are, as in other ecological niches, influenced by autogenic and allogenic factors. However, our understanding of microbial colonization in younger versus older CF airways and the association with pulmonary function is rudimentary at best. Using a phylogenetic microarray, we examine the airway microbiota in age stratified CF patients ranging from neonates (9 months) to adults (72 years). From a cohort of clinically stable patients, we demonstrate that older CF patients who exhibit poorer pulmonary function possess more uneven, phylogenetically-clustered airway communities, compared to younger patients. Using longitudinal samples collected form a subset of these patients a pattern of initial bacterial community diversification was observed in younger patients compared with a progressive loss of diversity over time in older patients. We describe in detail the distinct bacterial community profiles associated with young and old CF patients with a particular focus on the differences between respective "early" and "late" colonizing organisms. Finally we assess the influence of Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Regulator (CFTR) mutation on bacterial abundance and identify genotype-specific communities involving members of the Pseudomonadaceae, Xanthomonadaceae, Moraxellaceae and Enterobacteriaceae amongst others. Data presented here provides insights into the CF airway microbiota, including initial diversification events in younger patients and establishment of specialized communities of pathogens associated with poor pulmonary function in older patient populations.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e11044
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2010


  • Adolescent, Adult, Age Distribution, Aged, Base Sequence, Child, Child, Preschool, Cystic Fibrosis/microbiology, Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator/genetics, DNA Primers, Humans, Infant, Middle Aged, Mutation, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, Polymerase Chain Reaction