Prevalence and identification of fungal DNA in the small intestine of healthy dogs and dogs with chronic enteropathies.
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Limited information is available about the prevalence and phylogenetic classification of fungal organisms in the gastrointestinal tract of dogs. Also, the impact of fungal organisms on gastrointestinal health and disease is not well understood. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of fungal DNA in the small intestine of healthy dogs and dogs with chronic enteropathies. Small intestinal content was analyzed from 64 healthy and 71 diseased dogs from five different geographic locations in Europe and the USA. Fungal DNA was amplified with panfungal primers targeting the internal transcriber spacer (ITS) region. PCR amplicons were subjected to phylogenetic analysis. Fungal DNA was detected in 60.9% of healthy dogs and in 76.1% of dogs with chronic enteropathies. This prevalence was not significantly different between the two groups (p=0.065). Fungal DNA was significantly more prevalent in mucosal brush samples (82.8%) than in luminal samples (42.9%; p=0.002). Sequencing results revealed a total of 51 different phylotypes. All sequences belonged to two phyla and were classified as either Ascomycota (32 phylotypes) or Basidiomycota (19 phylotypes). Three major classes were identified: Saccharomycetes, Dothideomycetes, and Hymenomycetes. The most commonly observed sequences were classified as Pichia spp., Cryptococcus spp., Candida spp., and Trichosporon spp. Species believed to be clinically more important were more commonly observed in diseased dogs. These results indicate a high prevalence and diversity of fungal DNA in the small intestine of both healthy dogs and dogs with chronic enteropathies. The canine gastrointestinal tract of diseased dogs may harbor opportunistic fungal pathogens.