Spontaneous bacterial cell lysis and biofilm formation in the colon of the Cape Dune mole-rat and the laboratory rabbit
A wide range of techniques, including high-throughput DNA sequencing methods, have been applied to the evaluation of the normal intestinal flora. However, the inability to grow many of those species in culture imposes substantial constraints on the techniques used to evaluate this important community. The presence of biofilms in the normal gut adds further complexity to the issue. In this study, a flow cytometric analysis was used to separate intact bacterial cells, cell debris, and other particulate matter based on bacteria-specific staining and particle size. In addition, an analysis of biofilm formation using fluorescent light microscopy was conducted. Using these approaches, the ratio of bacterial cell debris to intact bacterial cells as a measure of spontaneous lysis of bacterial cells in the gut of the Cape dune mole-rat (Bathyergus suillus) and the laboratory rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) was examined, and the degree of biofilm formation was semi-quantitatively assessed. The results suggest that the degree of spontaneous cell lysis was greater in the appendix than in the cecum in both the mole-rat and the rabbit. Further, the results point toward extensive epithelial-associated biofilm formation in the proximal mole-rat and rabbit large bowel, although the biofilms may be less structured than those found in laboratory rodents and in humans. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.