Lisa R. McTaggart, Julia K. Copeland, Anuradha Surendra, Pauline W. Wang, Shahid Husain, Bryan Coburn, David S. Guttman and Julianne V. Kus
Front Microbiol. 2019 Mar 15;10:512. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00512. eCollection 2019.
Invasive fungal infections are an increasingly important cause of human morbidity and mortality. We generated a next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based method designed to detect a wide range of fungi and applied it to analysis of the fungal microbiome (mycobiome) of the lung during fungal infection. Internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) amplicon sequencing and a custom analysis pipeline detected 96% of species from three mock communities comprised of potential fungal lung pathogens with good recapitulation of the expected species distributions (Pearson correlation coefficients r = 0.63, p = 0.004; r = 0.71, p < 0.001; r = 0.62, p = 0.002). We used this pipeline to analyze mycobiomes of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimens classified as culture-negative (n = 50) or culture-positive (n = 39) for Blastomyces dermatitidis/gilchristii, the causative agent of North America blastomycosis. Detected in 91.4% of the culture-positive samples, Blastomyces dominated (>50% relative abundance) the mycobiome in 68.6% of these culture-positive samples but was absent in culture-negative samples. To overcome any bias in relative abundance due to between-sample variation in fungal biomass, an abundance-weighting calculation was used to normalize the data by accounting for sample-specific PCR cycle number and PCR product concentration data utilized during sample preparation. After normalization, there was a statistically significant greater overall abundance of ITS1 amplicon in the Blastomyces-culture-positive samples versus culture-negative samples. Moreover, the normalization revealed a greater biomass of yeast and environmental fungi in several Blastomyces-culture-positive samples than in the culture-negative samples. Successful detection of Coccidioides, Scedosporium, Phaeoacremonium, and Aspergillus in 6 additional culture-positive BALs by ITS1 amplicon sequencing demonstrates the ability of this method to detect a broad range of fungi from clinical specimens, suggesting that it may be a potentially useful adjunct to traditional fungal microbiological testing for the diagnosis of respiratory mycoses.