Untargeted Metagenomic Investigation of the Airway Microbiome of Cystic Fibrosis Patients with Moderate-Severe Lung Disease

Giovanni Bacci, Giovanni Taccetti, Daniela Dolce, Federica Armanini, Nicola Segata, Francesca Di Cesare, Vincenzina Lucidi, Ersilia Fiscarelli, Patrizia Morelli, Rosaria Casciaro, Anna Negroni, Alessio Mengoni, Annamaria Bevivino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the cystic fibrosis (CF) lung microbiota has been characterized in several studies, little is still known about the temporal changes occurring at the whole microbiome level using untargeted metagenomic analysis. The aim of this study was to investigate the taxonomic and functional temporal dynamics of the lower airway microbiome in a cohort of CF patients. Multiple sputum samples were collected over 15 months from 22 patients with advanced lung disease regularly attending three Italian CF Centers, given a total of 79 samples. DNA extracted from samples was subjected to shotgun metagenomic sequencing allowing both strain-level taxonomic profiling and assessment of the functional metagenomic repertoire. High inter-patient taxonomic heterogeneity was found with short-term compositional changes across clinical status. Each patient exhibited distinct sputum microbial communities at the taxonomic level, and strain-specific colonization of both traditional and atypical CF pathogens. A large core set of genes, including antibiotic resistance genes, were shared across patients despite observed differences in clinical status, and consistently detected in the lung microbiome of all subjects independently from known antibiotic exposure. In conclusion, an overall stability in the microbiome-associated genes was found despite taxonomic fluctuations of the communities.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 4 2020


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