A paper coauthored by Dr. Michelle Bustamante, Dr. Caryn Plummer, Jennifer MacNichol and Dr. Diego Gomez appeared March 15 in a special issue of Animals focusing on equine microbiota. The publication, titled “Impact of Ambient Temperature Sample Storage on the Equine Fecal Microbiota,” investigates the hypothesis that sample storage technique may impact fecal bacterial microbiota composition —the collective community of bacteria present in feces.
This is an especially important factor in field studies, where access to freezing or refrigeration may be limited or non-existent, resulting in samples remaining at room temperature until transport to the laboratory, the authors state in the article summary. The study’s objective was to investigate the effect of sample storage at room temperature for up to 96 hours on the fecal microbiota of healthy horses. Results revealed that storage of equine fecal samples at room temperature for up to six hours before freezing had minimal effect on the fecal microbiota, while longer term storage at room temperature led to alterations in the resident bacterial population. When ultra-low temperature storage conditions are unavailable for immediate freezing, equine fecal samples should be frozen within six hours after collection to minimize storage induced alterations in bacterial composition, the researchers said.
Bustamante is a second-year ophthalmology resident at UF and Plummer, her mentor, is a professor of ophthalmology. Gomez is a former assistant professor of large animal medicine at UF, now at the University of Guelph, Ontario, where coauthor MacNichol is a graduate student.