Minor compositional alterations in faecal microbiota after five weeks and five months storage at room temperature on filter papers.

Sebastian von Huth, Louise Bruun Thingholm, Corinna Bang, Malte C Rühlemann, Andre Franke, Uffe Holmskov
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Scientific Reports
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The gut microbiota is recognized as having major impact in health and disease. Sample storage is an important aspect to obtain reliable results. Mostly recommended is immediate freezing, however, this is not always feasible. Faecal occult blood test (FOBT) papers are an appealing solution in such situations, and most studies find these to be applicable, showing no major changes within 7 days storage at room temperature (RT). As fieldwork often requires RT storage for longer periods, evaluation of this is warranted. We performed 16S rRNA gene sequencing of 19 paired faecal samples immediately frozen or kept five weeks and five months at RT on FOBT papers. Alpha-diversity evaluation revealed no effect of FOBT storage, and evaluation of beta-diversity showed that host explained 65% of community variation, while storage method explained 5%. Evaluation of community dispersion and the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio revealed a larger effect of storage time for fresh-frozen samples. Single taxa evaluation (order-to-genus level) showed significant alterations of four (of 37) genera after five weeks and five genera after five months. When comparing the two timepoints, alterations were only detectable for fresh-frozen samples. Our findings reveal that long term storage on FOBT papers is an applicable approach for microbiota research.