project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

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project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby _cy » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:04 pm

I am doing a science fair project comparing the difference of the microbiome in dogs and human. I plan to obtain samples of microbes from various parts of the body for both dogs and human, i hope to have around 10 different places to obtain from, can someone give me some ideas on where to obtain them and how exactly to obtain them? After i obtain the samples, what procedure should i use to examine them? I am guessing that i would need access to some advanced technologies for adequate observations. Also, is it okay if i just use one dog and one human as test objects? I am worried that the test results may differ depending on which dog/human i obtain samples from. If there are too many possible variations of the test results depending on which dog/human i obtain samples from, should i change my project into something like comparing the microbiome of different dogs?
_cy
 
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Project Question: How does the microbiome in dogs differ from the microbiome in human?
Project Due Date: January 2013
Project Status: I am conducting my research

Re: project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby heatherL » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:50 am

Hi there,

You have a great project idea! I think that testing 10 different places on humans and dogs will be very complicated to interpret. Instead, I suggest that you try examining multiple humans and dogs, and test bacteria from the same location (e.g., the mouth) for all of them.

This Science Buddies project has information that can help you with the procedure for culturing your samples: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... p017.shtml

Make sure you look at these safety guidelines regarding the culturing of microorganisms: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... fety.shtml

It would be extremely difficult to identify which bacteria you culture, but you can compare how many grow from the different sources.

Check out the information in this previous thread from the Ask an Expert Forum for more great resources, including a link to a Mythbusters experiment:
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=1866

I hope that helps. Please post again (in this same thread) if you have more questions.

Heather
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Re: project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby _cy » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:35 am

Thank you for the reply,
If I study about the bacteria that usually live within the dog/human and ways to identify them, will i be able to at least identify some bacteria that i culture? Should i contact a professor to ask for the chance to work in a lab?
_cy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:21 pm
Occupation: Student: 9th grade
Project Question: How does the microbiome in dogs differ from the microbiome in human?
Project Due Date: January 2013
Project Status: I am conducting my research

Re: project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby heatherL » Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:06 pm

Glad to help!

I think it's a great idea to research the different types of bacteria in an effort to identify them. And yes, I think it would help if you contact a potential mentor with a microbiology lab, where the researchers might be able to help you with species (or at least genus-level) identification.

Here is some information about how to contact a potential mentor:
http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... tors.shtml

I hope that helps!

Heather
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Re: project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby Rooz » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:56 am

Hello,

As Heather said, you have a great idea, and it seems that you have good understanding on designing your research project. Finding a mentor will absolutely help you to finalize your project.

I have two suggestions for you if you would like to focus on the mouth. First, think about the final outcome of your project. In another words, look for bacteria (or other microorganism) which is important in the development of a disease. Let's say some dog species (I guess Doberman) are prone to gum disease. So one can ask whether these dogs have more quantity of certain bacteria which induce gum diseases. This might night be necessarily correct because both the quantity and strain of pathogenic bacteria are important. Second, There is a very simple kit (http://www.gcamerica.com/products/preve ... chRefs.pdf) is available in the market, which was designed to examine the presence/absence of an specific bacterium that is important in dental caries. This might be an alternative approach if you decide not to pursue cell culture path (the majority of microorganism in microbiome of animal and human are imposible to culture since we simply don't know the optimal culture environment for them). I don't know if dogs develop dental caries or not (talk to a Vet). You can test if it may be because they lack bacteria required to develop dental caries (along with lots of other possibilites such as what dogs eat).

I hope that this doesn't confuse you. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have more questions.

Good luck,
Rooz
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Re: project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby _cy » Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:56 pm

Thank you for the suggestions,

I have modified my study topic into "How is the microbiome of humans and dogs different within the mouth?"
Since I am comparing the microbiome within dogs and humans instead of just dogs or humans themselves, is it that I should keep the factors affecting the microbes to a similar level within the humans and the dogs? For example, I would have to obtain samples from dogs of the same age, same gender, same breed?
I am still swaying a little on my topic (I am still considering if I should alter my study on just dogs but different areas to obtain samples from) because I feel that it is hard to control the constant factors.
_cy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:21 pm
Occupation: Student: 9th grade
Project Question: How does the microbiome in dogs differ from the microbiome in human?
Project Due Date: January 2013
Project Status: I am conducting my research

Re: project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby heatherL » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:24 pm

Hi there,

It's great to see that you are thinking about the different factors that could affect your results! Since your question, "How is the microbiome of humans and dogs different within the mouth?" is primarily focused on the differences between humans and dogs, you do not need to worry too much about trying to control the other factors initially. Instead, try to get access to as many dogs as you can (say, at least 20), and match that number with your human samples. Since you only need a quick swab from the mouth, you should be able to get permission to use different dogs in your study. Take care to apply each sample to an agar plate as soon as possible, and do your best to keep in in sterile conditions until then!

When you do collect your samples, make sure to record factors like age, gender, and breed (race for humans). All domesticated dogs are the same species (Canis familiaris), so it is perfectly appropriate to combine all of the different breeds into one group just as you would combine different races of people. There have been studies demonstrating more robust health in mixed breeds, primarily due to genetics, but it might be interesting to see if that holds true for their microbiomes as well. Once you have the data, you would start by comparing all dogs to all humans. Then you could look within each group to see if there are differences based on gender or breed, if you are interested. That said, you might need a bigger sample size (e.g., at least 50 dogs) to see statistical differences among breeds.

I think Rooz's idea to look for bacteria responsible for dental caries is really cool! Dogs can have teeth problems, too, so it might be fun to look into that aspect of your project if that interests you. You could try contacting a dentist and/or veterinarian for information regarding the bacteria responsible for tooth decay in people and dogs.

I hope I am not overwhelming you with information here. The take-home message is that you should get as many dogs as possible for your study, and start by doing a simple comparison between dogs and humans. If you get a good number of subjects and keep track of the other factors, you can always analyze your data with additional comparisons.

Please keep us posted on your progress!

Heather
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Re: project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby _cy » Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:42 pm

Thanks for all the help, I successfully found a mentor with a microbiology lab and experiences with human microbiome research. I decided to experiment on 50 dogs and 50 humans and compare the difference. Does the time difference from the moment a sample is taken and when it is applied to an agar plate matter? Since it's hard to get 50 samples at the same time and apply it to the agar plates without waiting too long, I plan to put the samples in sterile tubes before going to the lab (the agar plates would be at the lab). Does it matter if the samples are put in sterile tubes for a long time? What if each sample remained in the sterile tube for different amount of time?
_cy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:21 pm
Occupation: Student: 9th grade
Project Question: How does the microbiome in dogs differ from the microbiome in human?
Project Due Date: January 2013
Project Status: I am conducting my research

Re: project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby heatherL » Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:24 pm

Hi,

So glad to hear that you successfully found a mentor! That will help you to carry out your methods properly, and give you the chance to perform a really great experiment.

I think a sample size of 50 dogs and 50 humans is appropriate. (Remember to record as much about the other variables - age, gender, breed - as you can.)

Your question about the time between sampling and plating is excellent. Your mentor should have a definite answer for you, but I think that sterile tubes will minimize the further growth of the bacteria you collect, so you should be plating the same number of bacteria you originally collected. However, it is possible that the storage time could affect your sampling by allowing some bacteria to multiply or allowing some to die. Have you thought about plating at different times (visiting the lab more than once) so you can make sure to plate the same day as you collect samples? That way you could minimize the difference in timing from collection to plating.

If you are not able to control for the timing, just make sure to record it, so you can see if there is a difference.

Please post again if you have more questions!

Heather
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Re: project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby _cy » Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:00 pm

My school science fair is few weeks away and i haven't achieved the purpose of this study yet because my mentor doesn't have time to meet up with me again to do some further study on the bacterial types that I have grown on the agar plate. Now I'm lost on how to write the discussion and conclusion because the only thing I can talk about is the quantity of colonies grown which was not the purpose of this study. Can someone suggest ideas on what i could do? Thanks.
_cy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:21 pm
Occupation: Student: 9th grade
Project Question: How does the microbiome in dogs differ from the microbiome in human?
Project Due Date: January 2013
Project Status: I am conducting my research

Re: project regarding the microbiome of human and dog

Postby heatherL » Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:02 pm

First of all, don't panic. You can still make some conclusions from the information you have.

Do you have pictures of your plates (or the plates themselves)? You can estimate the different categories of bacteria you have by the general shape, color, and texture of the colonies. Make some descriptions of what you notice about the different plates. Do you see consistent differences in how the colonies look (besides just quantity)?

You can also do what we call post hoc analysis of your data, by making comparisons you may not have intended at the beginning of your experiment. Do you see differences in the quantity of bacteria between males and females? Different breeds of dog? Different ages? You might find some interesting results, even if it wasn't what you originally planned to do!

I hope this helps you get started. Feel free to post again if you need more guidance.

Heather
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