Characterization of fecal microbiota in cats using universal 16S rRNA gene and group-specific primers for Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium spp.
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The diversity of the feline intestinal microbiota has not been well elucidated. The aim of this study was to characterize fecal microbiota of cats by comparative sequence analysis with universal bacterial 16S rRNA gene and group-specific primers for Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus spp. Using universal bacterial primers, a total of 133 non-redundant 16S rRNA gene sequences were identified in fecal samples obtained from 15 healthy pet cats. The majority of these sequences were assigned to the phylum Firmicutes, followed by Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes. Further classification showed that Firmicutes were predominantly affiliated with Clostridium clusters XI, XIVa, and I. Using group-specific primers for Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus spp., 364 clones were analyzed in fecal samples obtained from 12 additional cats and these bacterial genera were observed in 100% and 92% of cats, respectively. These detection rates differed from those obtained using universal bacterial primers, where Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus spp. were each detected in 2 cats (13.3%). Overall, 23 different Lactobacillus-like and 11 Bifidobacterium-like sequences were identified. We observed marked differences in the prevalence of the various lactic acid bacteria in individual cats. In conclusion, the use of a combination of universal and group-specific primers allows a more detailed characterization of lactic acid bacteria in the feline intestine. While Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus spp. are prevalent in feline fecal samples, individual animals show a unique species distribution.