Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 392–397 | Cite as

A Molecular Analysis of Fecal and Mucosal Bacterial Communities in Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Caroline Codling
  • Liam O’Mahony
  • Fergus Shanahan
  • Eamonn M. M. QuigleyEmail author
  • Julian R. Marchesi
Original Article



The objectives of this study were, firstly, to determine the diversity of the host’s gut microbiota in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) using a culture-independent method (DGGE of the 16S rRNA gene) and, secondly, to examine mucosal biopsies of IBS patients and compare them to their own fecal microbiota.


The diversity of the dominant microbiota in the fecal material of IBS patients was compared to a healthy control group. In addition, we compared the mucosal and fecal microbiota of IBS patients.


Statistical analysis of the mean similarity data for these groups indicated a significant difference (P < 0.001) between IBS (n = 47) and healthy controls (n = 33) with significantly more variation in the gut microbiota of healthy volunteers than that of IBS patients. The average intra-individual similarity between the mucosa and luminal microbiota was 84%, which indicates that different communities were present at the two sites. This difference, however, is similar to that previously described between these two niches in control subjects. The average inter-individual similarity of the bacterial communities on the mucosa and in the lumen of IBS was not significantly different (P > 0.05).


IBS impacts equally on both bacterial communities in the IBS host and a significant difference in the gut microbiota exists between fecal samples from IBS patients and healthy controls. The reason for this difference is unclear and various possible explanations are available, but much more work is required to determine the underlying reason for this observation.


Irritable bowel syndrome Colonic microbiota Gut flora Fecal flora DGGE Mucosal microbiota 



The authors wish to thank Dr. Pauline Scanlan for help with DGGE. The authors are supported in part by Science Foundation Ireland, Higher Education Authority, and the Health Research Board.

Supplementary material

10620_2009_934_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (38 kb)
Figure S1 DGGE gels of the V1–V3 regions and 5 of the V6–V8 used in this study (PDF 38 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Codling
    • 1
    • 2
  • Liam O’Mahony
    • 1
  • Fergus Shanahan
    • 1
  • Eamonn M. M. Quigley
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Julian R. Marchesi
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, Department of MedicineCork University HospitalCorkIreland
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyNational University of Ireland, CorkCorkIreland
  3. 3.Department of MedicineCork University HospitalCorkIreland
  4. 4.School of BiosciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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