Bacterial communities of the coronal sulcus and distal urethra of adolescent males

David E. Nelson, Qunfeng Dong, Barbara van der Pol, Evelyn Toh, Baochang Fan, Barry P. Katz, Deming Mi, Ruichen Rong, George M. Weinstock, Erica Sodergren, J. Dennis Fortenberry

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75 Scopus citations


Lactobacillus-dominated vaginal microbiotas are associated with reproductive health and STI resistance in women, whereas altered microbiotas are associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV), STI risk and poor reproductive outcomes. Putative vaginal taxa have been observed in male first-catch urine, urethral swab and coronal sulcus (CS) specimens but the significance of these observations is unclear. We used 16 S rRNA sequencing to characterize the microbiota of the CS and urine collected from 18 adolescent men over three consecutive months. CS microbiotas of most participants were more stable than their urine microbiotas and the composition of CS microbiotas were strongly influenced by circumcision. BV-associated taxa, including Atopobium, Megasphaera, Mobiluncus, Prevotella and Gemella, were detected in CS specimens from sexually experienced and inexperienced participants. In contrast, urine primarily contained taxa that were not abundant in CS specimens. Lactobacilllus and Streptococcus were major urine taxa but their abundance was inversely correlated. In contrast, Sneathia, Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma were only found in urine from sexually active participants. Thus, the CS and urine support stable and distinct bacterial communities. Finally, our results suggest that the penis and the urethra can be colonized by a variety of BV-associated taxa and that some of these colonizations result from partnered sexual activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere36298
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 11 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this

Nelson, D. E., Dong, Q., van der Pol, B., Toh, E., Fan, B., Katz, B. P., Mi, D., Rong, R., Weinstock, G. M., Sodergren, E., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2012). Bacterial communities of the coronal sulcus and distal urethra of adolescent males. PLoS ONE, 7(5), [e36298].