Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

UNLABELLED: The nasopharynx is an important reservoir of disease-associated and antimicrobial-resistant bacterial species. This proof-of-concept study assessed the utility of a combined culture, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), and targeted metagenomic sequencing workflow for the study of the pediatric nasopharyngeal bacterial microbiota. Nasopharyngeal swabs and clinical metadata were collected from Cambodian children during a hospital outpatient visit and then biweekly for 12 weeks. Swabs were cultured on chocolate and blood-gentamicin agar, and all colony morphotypes were identified by MALDI-TOF MS. Metagenomic sequencing was done on a scrape of all colonies from a chocolate agar culture and processed using the mSWEEP pipeline. One hundred one children were enrolled, yielding 620 swabs. MALDI-TOF MS identified 106 bacterial species/40 genera: 20 species accounted for 88.5% (2,190/2,474) of isolates. Colonization by Moraxella catarrhalis (92.1% of children on ≥1 swab), Haemophilus influenzae (87.1%), and Streptococcus pneumoniae (83.2%) was particularly common. In S. pneumoniae-colonized children, a median of two serotypes [inter-quartile range (IQR) 1-2, range 1-4] was detected. For the 21 bacterial species included in the mSWEEP database and identifiable by MALDI-TOF, detection by culture + MALDI-TOF MS and culture + mSWEEP was highly concordant with a median species-level agreement of 96.9% (IQR 86.8%-98.8%). mSWEEP revealed highly dynamic lineage-level colonization patterns for S. pneumoniae which were quite different to those for S. aureus. A combined culture, MALDI-TOF MS, targeted metagenomic sequencing approach for the exploration of the young child nasopharyngeal microbiome was technically feasible, and each component yielded complementary data. IMPORTANCE: The human upper respiratory tract is an important source of disease-causing and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, understanding the interactions and stability of these bacterial populations is technically challenging. We used a combination of approaches to determine colonization patterns over a 3-month period in 101 Cambodian children. The combined approach was feasible to implement, and each component gave complementary data to enable a better understanding of the complex patterns of bacterial colonization.

Original publication






Publication Date



Cambodia, Haemophilus influenzae, MALDI-TOF, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, colonization, metagenomic sequencing, pediatrics