Evaluation of the bacterial ocular surface microbiome in clinically normal cats before and after treatment with topical erythromycin. Academic Article uri icon


  • The ocular surface microbiome of veterinary species has not been thoroughly characterized using next generation sequencing. Furthermore, alterations in the feline ocular surface microbiome over time or following topical antibiotic treatment are unknown. Aims of this study were to further characterize the ocular surface microbiome of healthy cats and to identify whether there are microbial community changes over time and following topical antibiotic use. Twenty-four eyes from twelve adult, research-bred, female spayed domestic shorthaired cats were evaluated. Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment (0.5%) was applied to the ocular surface of one randomly assigned eye per cat three times daily for 7 days, while the fellow eye served as an untreated control. The ocular surface was sampled by swabbing the inferior conjunctival fornix of both eyes prior to initiating treatment (day 0), after 1 week of treatment (day 7), and 4 weeks after concluding treatment (day 35). Genomic DNA was extracted from the swabs and sequenced using primers that target the V4 region of bacterial 16S rRNA genes. At baseline, the most common bacterial phyla identified were Proteobacteria (42.4%), Firmicutes (30.0%), Actinobacteria (15.6%), and Bacteroidetes (8.1%). The most abundant bacterial families sequenced were Corynebacteriaceae (7.8%), Helicobacteraceae (7.5%), Moraxellaceae (6.1%), and Comamonadaceae (5.6%). Alpha and beta diversity measurements were largely unchanged in both treatment and control eyes over time. However, univariate and linear discriminant analyses revealed significant and similar changes in the abundance of some bacterial taxa over time in both treatment and control eyes. Overall, the feline ocular surface microbiome remained stable over time and following topical antibiotic therapy.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 8.08

author list (cited authors)

  • Darden, J. E., Scott, E. M., Arnold, C., Scallan, E. M., Simon, B. T., & Suchodolski, J. S.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Darden, Joshua E||Scott, Erin M||Arnold, Carolyn||Scallan, Elizabeth M||Simon, Bradley T||Suchodolski, Jan S

editor list (cited editors)

  • Oakley, B. B.

publication date

  • January 2019