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Site-specific molecular analysis of the bacteriota on worn spectacles

  • Fritz, Birgit1
  • März, Melanie1
  • Weis, Severin1
  • Wahl, Siegfried2
  • Ziemssen, Focke3
  • Egert, Markus1
  • 1 Faculty of Medical and Life Sciences, Institute of Precision Medicine, Microbiology and Hygiene Group, Furtwangen University, Jakob-Kienzle-Strasse 17, Villingen-Schwenningen, 78054, Germany , Villingen-Schwenningen (Germany)
  • 2 Institute for Ophthalmic Research, Eberhard-Karls University, Elfriede-Aulhorn-Straße 7, Tuebingen, 72076, Germany , Tuebingen (Germany)
  • 3 Center for Ophthalmology, Eberhard-Karls University, Elfriede-Aulhorn-Straße 7, Tuebingen, 72076, Germany , Tuebingen (Germany)
Published Article
Scientific Reports
Springer Nature
Publication Date
Mar 27, 2020
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-62186-6
Springer Nature


Regularly touched surfaces are usually contaminated with microorganisms and might be considered as fomites. The same applies for spectacles, but only little is known about their microbial colonization. Previous cultivation-based analyses from our group revealed a bacterial load strongly dominated by staphylococci. To better account for aerotolerant anaerobes, slow growing and yet-uncultivated bacteria, we performed an optimized 16S rRNA gene sequencing approach targeting the V1-V3 region. 30 spectacles were swab-sampled at three sites, each (nosepads, glasses and earclips). We detected 5232 OTUs affiliated with 19 bacterial phyla and 665 genera. Actinobacteria (64%), Proteobacteria (22%), Firmicutes (7%) and Bacteroidetes (5%) were relatively most abundant. At genus level, 13 genera accounted for 84% of the total sequences of all spectacles, having a prevalence of more than 1% relative abundance. Propionibacterium (57%), Corynebacterium (5%), Staphylococcus (4%), Pseudomonas, Sphingomonas and Lawsonella (3%, each) were the dominant genera. Interestingly, bacterial diversity on the glasses was significantly higher compared to nosepads and earclips. Our study represents the first cultivation-independent study of the bacteriota of worn spectacles. Dominated by bacteria of mostly human skin and epithelia origin and clearly including potential pathogens, spectacles may play a role as fomites, especially in clinical environments.

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