More Than Meets the Eye: Associations of Vaginal Bacteria with Gram Stain Morphotypes Using Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis

Academic Article

Abstract

  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a highly prevalent condition associated with adverse health outcomes. Gram stain analysis of vaginal fluid is the standard for confirming the diagnosis of BV, wherein abundances of key bacterial morphotypes are assessed. These Lactobacillus, Gardnerella, Bacteroides, and Mobiluncus morphotypes were originally linked to particular bacterial species through cultivation studies, but no studies have systematically investigated associations between uncultivated bacteria detected by molecular methods and Gram stain findings. In this study, 16S-rRNA PCR/pyrosequencing was used to examine associations between vaginal bacteria and bacterial morphotypes in 220 women with and without BV. Species-specific quantitative PCR (qPCR) and fluorescence in Situ hybridization (FISH) methods were used to document concentrations of two bacteria with curved rod morphologies: Mobiluncus and the fastidious BV-associated bacterium-1 (BVAB1). Rank abundance of vaginal bacteria in samples with evidence of curved gram-negative rods showed that BVAB1 was dominant (26.1%), while Mobiluncus was rare (0.2% of sequence reads). BVAB1 sequence reads were associated with Mobiluncus morphotypes (p<0.001). Among women with curved rods, mean concentration of BVAB1 DNA was 2 log units greater than Mobiluncus (p<0.001) using species-specific quantitative PCR. FISH analyses revealed that mean number of BVAB1 cells was 2 log units greater than Mobiluncus cells in women with highest Nugent score (p<0.001). Prevotella and Porphyromonas spp. were significantly associated with the "Bacteroides morphotype," whereas Bacteroides species were rare. Gram-negative rods designated Mobiluncus morphotypes on Gram stain are more likely BVAB1. These findings provide a clearer picture of the bacteria associated with morphotypes on vaginal Gram stain. © 2013 Srinivasan et al.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 9826472
  • Author List

  • Srinivasan S; Morgan MT; Liu C; Matsen FA; Hoffman NG; Fiedler TL; Agnew KJ; Marrazzo JM; Fredricks DN
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 10