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Megasphaera in the stool microbiota is negatively associated with diarrheal cryptosporidiosis

By Maureen A. Carey, Gregory L. Medlock, Masud Alam, Mamun Kabir, Md. Jashim Uddin, Uma Nayak, Jason A. Papin, A.S.G. Faruque, Rashidul Haque, William Petri, Carol A. Gilchrist

Posted 01 Oct 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.01.323147

Background The protozoan parasites in the Cryptosporidium genus cause both acute diarrheal disease and subclinical (i.e. non-diarrheal) disease. It is unclear if the microbiota can influence the manifestation of diarrhea during a Cryptosporidium infection. Methods To characterize the role of the gut microbiota in diarrheal cryptosporidiosis, the microbiome composition of both diarrheal and surveillance Cryptosporidium -positive fecal samples was evaluated using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Additionally, the microbiome composition prior to infection was examined to test whether a preexisting microbiome profile could influence the Cryptosporidium infection phenotype. Results Fecal microbiome composition was associated with diarrheal symptoms at two timepoints. Megasphaera was significantly less abundant in diarrheal samples when compared to subclinical samples at the time of Cryptosporidium detection (log2(fold change) = -4.3, p =10−10) and prior to infection (log2(fold change) = -2.0, p =10−4). Random forest classification also identified Megasphaera abundance in the pre- and post-exposure microbiota.as predictive of a subclinical infection. Conclusions Microbiome composition broadly, and specifically low Megasphaera abundance, was associated with diarrheal symptoms prior to and at the time of Cryptosporidium detection. This observation suggests that the gut microenvironment may play a role in determining the severity of a Cryptosporidium infection. Summary Megasphaera abundance in the stool of Bangladeshi infants is associated with the development of diarrhea upon infection with the Cryptosporidium parasite. ### Competing Interest Statement WAP acts as a consultant for TechLab Inc that produces diagnostics for cryptosporidiosis. The authors have no other conflicts of interest to report.

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