Front Mol Biosci. 2023 Aug 4;10:1210225. doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2023.1210225. eCollection 2023.
Introduction: In complex microbial communities, the importance of microbial species at very low abundance levels and their prevalence for overall community structure and function is increasingly being recognized. Clinical microbiome studies on urinary stone disease (USD) have indicated that both the gut and urinary tract microbiota are associated with the onset of the disease and that kidney stones them-selves harbor a complex, yet consistent and viable, microbiome. However, how rare phylotypes contribute to this association remains unclear. Delineating the contribution of rare and common phylotypes to urinary stone disease is important for the development of bacteriotherapies to promote urologic health. Methods: The objectives of the current report were to conduct a metaanalysis of 16S rRNA datasets derived from the kidney stone, stool, and urine samples of participants with or without urinary stone disease. To delineate the impact of rare and common phylotypes, metaanalyses were conducted by first separating rare and common taxa determined by both the frequency and abundance of amplicon sequence variants. Results: Consistent with previous analyses, we found that gut, upper urinary, and lower urinary tract microbiomes were all unique. Rare phylotypes comprised the majority of species observed in all sample types, with kidney stones exhibiting the greatest bias toward rarity, followed by urine and stool. Both rare and common fractions contributed significantly to the differences observed between sample types and health disparity. Furthermore, the rare and common fractions were taxonomically unique across all sample types. A total of 222 and 320 unique rare phylotypes from urine and stool samples were found to be significantly associated with USD. A co-occurrence correlation analysis revealed that rare phylotypes are most important for microbiome structure in stones, followed by urine and stool. Discussion: Collectively, the results indicate that rare phylotypes may be important for the pathophysiology of USD, particularly in the kidney stone matrix, which is inherently a very low microbial biomass niche that can have implications for the diagnosis and treatment of kidney stones. Further studies are needed to investigate the functional significance of rare phylotypes in kidney stone pathogenesis.