The effects of smoking on human pharynx microbiota composition and stability

Bach, L. , Ram, A., Ijaz, U. Z. , Evans, T. J. , Haydon, D. T. and Lindström, J. (2023) The effects of smoking on human pharynx microbiota composition and stability. Microbiology Spectrum, 11(2), e02166-21. (doi: 10.1128/spectrum.02166-21) (PMID:36786634) (PMCID:PMC10101099)

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The oral microbiota is essential to the health of the host, yet little is known about how it responds to disturbances. We examined the oropharyngeal microbiota of 30 individuals over 40 weeks. As the oropharynx is an important gateway to pathogens, and as smoking is associated with increased incidence and severity of respiratory infections, we compared the microbiota of smokers and nonsmokers to shed light on its potential for facilitating infections. We hypothesized that decreased species diversity, decreased community stability, or increased differences in community structure could facilitate invading pathogens. We found that smoking is associated with reduced alpha diversity, greater differences in community structure, and increased environmental filtering. The effects of short-term perturbations (antibiotic use and participants exhibiting cold symptoms) were also investigated. Antibiotic use had a negative effect on alpha diversity, irrespective of smoking status, and both antibiotic use and cold symptoms were associated with highly unique bacterial communities. A stability analysis of models built from the data indicated that there were no differences in local or global stability in the microbial communities of smokers, compared to nonsmokers, and that their microbiota are equally resistant to species invasions. Results from these models suggest that smoker microbiota are perturbed but characterized by alternative stable states that are as stable and invasion-resistant as are the microbiota of nonsmokers. Smoking is unlikely to increase the risk of infectious disease through the altered composition and ecological function of the microbiota; this is more likely due to the effects of smoking on the local and systemic immune system.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:We are grateful for the support by Glasgow University Kelvin-Smith studentship (AR), IISF536 Catalyst Grant (097821/Z/11/Z) by Wellcome Trust (JL, TE) and Leverhulme Trust grant (RPG-2017-279; JL, DH, LB).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Evans, Professor Tom and Lindstrom, Dr Jan and Bach, Dr Lydia and Haydon, Professor Daniel and Ijaz, Dr Umer
Authors: Bach, L., Ram, A., Ijaz, U. Z., Evans, T. J., Haydon, D. T., and Lindström, J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Infrastructure and Environment
Journal Name:Microbiology Spectrum
Publisher:American Society for Microbiology
ISSN (Online):2165-0497
Published Online:14 February 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 Bach et al.
First Published:First published in Microbiology Spectrum 11(2):e02166-21
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190536Integrated Health - Polyomics and Systems Biomedicine (ISSF Bid)Anna DominiczakWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)097821/Z/11/ZInstitute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences
301229Evolutionary ecology and dynamics of pharyngeal microbial communities in humansJan LindstromLeverhulme Trust (LEVERHUL)RPG-2017-279Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine