Do Gut Microbial Communities Differ in Pediatric IBS and Health?

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Human gastrointestinal microbial communities are recognized as important determinants of the host health and disease status. We have recently examined the distal gut microbiota of two groups of children: healthy adolescents and those diagnosed with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We have revealed the common core of phylotypes shared among all children, identified genera differentially abundant between two groups and surveyed possible relationships among intestinal microbial genera and phylotypes. In this article we explored the use of supervised and unsupervised ordination and classification methods to separate and classify child fecal samples based on their quantitative microbial profile. We observed sample separation according to the participant health status, and this separation could often be attributed to the abundance levels of several specific microbial genera. We also extended our original correlation network analysis of the relative abundances of bacterial genera across samples and determined possible association networks separately for healthy and IBS groups. Interestingly, the number of significant genus abundance associations was drastically lower among the IBS samples, which can potentially be attributed to the existence of multiple routes to microbiota disbalance in IBS or to the loss of microbial interactions during IBS development.