Differential longitudinal establishment of human fecal bacterial communities in germ-free porcine and murine models

Nirosh D. Aluthge, Wesley A. Tom, Alison C. Bartenslager, Thomas E. Burkey, Phillip S. Miller, Kelly D. Heath, Craig Kreikemeier-Bower, Hatem Kittana, Robert J. Schmaltz, Amanda E. Ramer-Tait, Samodha C. Fernando

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The majority of microbiome studies focused on understanding mechanistic relationships between the host and the microbiota have used mice and other rodents as the model of choice. However, the domestic pig is a relevant model that is currently underutilized for human microbiome investigations. In this study, we performed a direct comparison of the engraftment of fecal bacterial communities from human donors between human microbiota-associated (HMA) piglet and mouse models under identical dietary conditions. Analysis of 16S rRNA genes using amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) revealed that with the exception of early microbiota from infants, the more mature microbiotas tested established better in the HMA piglets compared to HMA mice. Of interest was the greater transplantation success of members belonging to phylum Firmicutes in the HMA piglets compared to the HMA mice. Together, these results provide evidence for the HMA piglet model potentially being more broadly applicable for donors with more mature microbiotas while the HMA mouse model might be more relevant for developing microbiotas such as those of infants. This study also emphasizes the necessity to exercise caution in extrapolating findings from HMA animals to humans, since up to 28% of taxa from some donors failed to colonize either model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number760
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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