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Smokeless tobacco products harbor diverse bacterial microbiota that differ across products and brands

Smyth, Eoghan M., Kulkarni, Prachi, Claye, Emma, Stanfill, Stephen, Tyx, Robert, Maddox, Cynthia, Mongodin, Emmanuel F., Sapkota, Amy R.
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2017 v.101 no.13 pp. 5391-5403
Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, DNA, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, adverse effects, bacteria, bacterial communities, carcinogens, community structure, genes, humans, nucleotide sequences, plate count, polymerase chain reaction, ribosomal RNA, risk, sequence analysis, smokeless tobacco
Smokeless tobacco products contain numerous chemical compounds, including known human carcinogens. Other smokeless tobacco constituents, including bacteria, may also contribute to adverse health effects among smokeless tobacco users. However, there is a lack of data regarding the microbial constituents of smokeless tobacco. Our goal was to characterize the bacterial microbiota of different smokeless tobacco products and evaluate differences across product types and brands. DNA was extracted from 15 brands of smokeless tobacco products (including dry snuff, moist snuff, snus, and Swedish snus) and 6 handmade products (e.g., toombak) using an enzymatic and mechanical lysis approach. Bacterial community profiling was performed using PCR amplification of the V1–V2 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene, followed by 454 pyrosequencing of the resulting amplicons and sequence analysis using the QIIME package. Total viable counts were also determined to estimate the number of viable bacteria present in each product. Average total viable counts ranged from 0 to 9.35 × 10⁷ CFU g⁻¹. Analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed high bacterial diversity across the majority of products tested: dry snuff products where characterized by the highest diversity indices compared to other products. The most dominant bacterial phyla across all products were Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes. Significant differences in both bacterial community composition and in silico predicted gene content were observed between smokeless tobacco product types and between brands of specific smokeless tobacco products. These data are useful in order to comprehensively address potential health risks associated with the use of smokeless tobacco products.