Drug Discov Ther. 2019;13(5):256-260. (DOI: 10.5582/ddt.2019.01071)

Effects of storage temperature, storage time, and Cary-Blair transport medium on the stability of the gut microbiota.

Nagata N, Tohya M, Takeuchi F, Suda W, Nishijima S, Ohsugi M, Ueki K, Tsujimoto T, Nakamura T, Kawai T, Miyoshi-Akiyama T, Uemura N, Hattori M


How long fecal samples can withstand a period of refrigeration or room temperature, and the appropriate preservative, are largely unknown. Cary-Blair transport medium has been used for many years because it is inexpensive and prevents bacterial overgrowth. However, its effectiveness for metagenomic analyses has never been tested. We found that the microbial compositions using a 16S rRNA sequence of samples left at 4°C for 3 or 7 days or at 25°C for 1, 3, or 7 days differed significantly from samples stored at −80°C in no-preservative method. Whereas samples stored in Cary-Blair medium remained unchanged for longer periods. The relative abundances of phylum Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria, changed significantly at 25°C, whereas Cary-Blair medium inhibited the reduction in Bacteroidetes and the increase in Actinobacteria. The bacterial survival counts were significantly lower in the RNAlater samples than in the Cary-Blair samples under aerobic and anaerobic culture conditions. In conclusion, storage time and storage temperature significantly affect the gut microbial composition in fecal samples. Given the low cost, inhibitory effect on bacterial changes, and potential utility in bacterial isolation, Cary-Blair medium containers are suitable for large-scale or hospital-based microbiome studies, especially if direct freezing at −80°C is unavailable.

KEYWORDS: Gut microbiome, Cary-Blair transport medium, RNAlater, fecal sampling, bacterial survival rate

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