Understanding and identifying the microbial communities within hosts is a new and innovative area of study with limited knowledge thus far. Due to the advent of sequencing technologies and the continued advancements in sequencing capabilities, the study of an organism's microbiome is now much more achievable and can have significant implications on both human and animal health. 

Led by CIDD Professor of Biology and Veterinary and Biomedical Science, Mary Poss, Penn State researchers utilized 454 sequencing technology and developed new computational approaches to identify the microbial community present in a healthy mule deer lymph node. Particularly striking in this study was that the genetic material was obtained from the lymph node of a healthy animal- an organ that has not been previously studied in this context- as well as their use of a meta-transcriptomic approach, which uses RNA as opposed to DNA for the microbial species identification. Their results showed the presence of microbiota from every existing bacterial phylum in addition to some viruses within the lymph node. Furthermore, this study identified novel microbes, including a gamma-virus and new Helicobacter and Acinetobacter species. This study presents for the first time the presence of a diverse microbial community within the deer lymph node and highlights the significance of using a meta-transcriptomic approach to identify microbes within organs. Additionally, this research may lead to significant implications in the monitoring of microbes within a host, particularly in wild animals or livestock.  


Synopsis written by Alexia Karanikas. 

Publication Details

Wittekindt NE, Padhi A, Schuster SC, Qi J, Zhao F, Tomsho LP, Kasson LR, Packard M, Cross P, & Poss M
Nodeomics: pathogen detection in vertabrate lymph nodes using meta-transcriptomics
Journal: PLoS ONE
10: e13432
DOI Reference