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Effects of altitude on human oral microbes

  • Liu, Fang1, 1, 2
  • Liang, Tian1, 1
  • Zhang, Zhiying1, 1
  • Liu, Lijun1, 1
  • Li, Jing1, 1
  • Dong, Wenxue1, 1
  • Zhang, Han1, 1
  • Bai, Su1, 1
  • Ma, Lifeng1, 1
  • Kang, Longli1, 1
  • 1 Xizang Minzu University, Xianyang, 712082, China , Xianyang (China)
  • 2 The Second Affiliated Hospital of Shaanxi University of Chinese Medicine, Xianyang, 712000, China , Xianyang (China)
Published Article
AMB Express
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication Date
Mar 06, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s13568-021-01200-0
Springer Nature


Human oral microbes play a vital role maintaining host metabolic homeostasis. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is mainly characterized by a high altitude, dry, cold, and hypoxic environment. The oral microbiota is subject to selective pressure from the plateau environment, which affects oral health. Only a few studies have focused on the characteristics of oral microbiota in high-altitude humans. We collected saliva samples from 167 Tibetans at four altitudes (2800 to 4500 m) in Tibet to explore the relationship between the high altitude environment and oral microbiota. We conducted a two (high- and ultra-high-altitude) group analysis based on altitude, and adopted the 16S rRNA strategy for high-throughput sequencing. The results show that the alpha diversity of the oral microbiota decreased with altitude, whereas beta diversity increased with altitude. A LEfSe analysis revealed that the oral microbial biomarker of the high-altitude group (< 3650 m) was Streptococcus, and the biomarker of the ultra-high-altitude group (> 4000 m) was Prevotella. The relative abundance of Prevotella increased with altitude, whereas the relative abundance of Streptococcus decreased with altitude. A network analysis showed that the microbial network structure was more compact and complex, and the interaction between the bacterial genera was more intense in the high altitude group. Gene function prediction results showed that the amino acid and vitamin metabolic pathways were upregulated in the ultra-high-altitude group. These result show that altitude is an important factor affecting the diversity and community structure of the human oral microbiota.

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