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Comprehensive compositional analysis of the slit lamp bacteriota

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posted on 2023-05-03, 18:57 authored by Birgit Fritz, Edita Paschko, Wayne Young, Daniel Böhringer, Siegfried Wahl, Focke Ziemssen, Markus Egert
Slit lamps are routinely used to examine large numbers of patients every day due to high throughput. Previous, cultivation-based results suggested slit lamps to be contaminated with bacteria, mostly coagulase-negative staphylococci, followed by micrococci, bacilli, but also Staphylococcus aureus. Our study aimed at obtaining a much more comprehensive, cultivation-independent view of the slit lamp bacteriota and its hygienic relevance, as regularly touched surfaces usually represent fomites, particularly if used by different persons. We performed extensive 16S rRNA gene sequencing to analyse the bacteriota, of 46 slit lamps from two tertiary care centers at two sampling sites, respectively. 82 samples yielded enough sequences for downstream analyses and revealed contamination with bacteria of mostly human skin, mucosa and probably eye origin, predominantly cutibacteria, staphylococci and corynebacteria. The taxonomic assignment of 3369 ASVs (amplicon sequence variants) revealed 19 bacterial phyla and 468 genera across all samples. As antibiotic resistances are of major concern, we screened all samples for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) using qPCR, however, no signals above the detection limit were detected. Our study provides first comprehensive insight into the slit lamp microbiota. It underlines that slit lamps carry a highly diverse, skin-like bacterial microbiota and that thorough cleaning and disinfection after use is highly recommendable to prevent eye and skin infections.


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Copyright © 2021 Fritz, Paschko, Young, Böhringer, Wahl, Ziemssen and Egert. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


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Journal title

Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology




Fritz, B., Paschko, E., Young, W., Böhringer, D., Wahl, S., Ziemssen, F., & Egert, M. (2021). Comprehensive compositional analysis of the slit lamp bacteriota. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 11, 745653.

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