Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineNational Heart & Lung Institute

Research Associate



+44 (0)20 7594 7974michael.cox1 Website




413Guy Scadding BuildingRoyal Brompton Campus






BibTex format

author = {Turek, EM and Cox, MJ and Hunter, M and Hui, J and James, P and Willis-Owen, SAG and Cuthbertson, L and James, A and Musk, AW and Moffatt, MF and Cookson, WOCM},
doi = {10.1101/583559},
publisher = {Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory},
title = {Distinctive airway microbial ecology of smokers and asthmatics},
url = {},
year = {2019}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - <jats:p>The airways of the lung carry microbiota that contribute to respiratory health<jats:sup>1</jats:sup>. The ecology of normal airway microbial communities, their responses to environmental events, and the mechanisms through which they cause or modify disease are poorly understood. Cigarette smoking is the dominant malign environmental influence on lung function, causing 11·5% of deaths globally<jats:sup>2</jats:sup>. Asthma is the most prevalent chronic respiratory disease worldwide<jats:sup>3,4</jats:sup>, but was uncommon 100 years ago<jats:sup>5</jats:sup>. The asthma pandemic is linked to urbanization, leading to considerations of protective microbiota loss (the “hygiene hypothesis”)<jats:sup>6-8</jats:sup> and acquisition of strains that may damage the airway epithelia<jats:sup>9</jats:sup>. We therefore investigated oropharyngeal airway microbial community structures in a general population sample of Australian adults. We show here that airway bacterial communities were strongly organized into distinctive co-abundance networks (“guilds”), just seven of which contained 99% of all oropharyngeal operational taxonomic units (OTUs). Smoking was associated with diversity loss, negative effects on abundant taxa, profound alterations to network structure and marked expansion of <jats:italic>Streptococcus</jats:italic> spp.. These perturbations may influence chronic obstructive pulmonary disease<jats:sup>10</jats:sup> (COPD) and lung cancer<jats:sup>11</jats:sup>. In contrast to smokers, the loss of diversity in asthmatics selectively affected low abundance but prevalent OTUs from poorly understood genera such as <jats:italic>Selenomonas, Megasphaera</jats:italic> and <jats:italic>Capnocytophaga</jats:italic>, without coarse scale network disruption. The results open the possibility that replaceme
AU - Turek,EM
AU - Cox,MJ
AU - Hunter,M
AU - Hui,J
AU - James,P
AU - Willis-Owen,SAG
AU - Cuthbertson,L
AU - James,A
AU - Musk,AW
AU - Moffatt,MF
AU - Cookson,WOCM
DO - 10.1101/583559
PB - Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
PY - 2019///
TI - Distinctive airway microbial ecology of smokers and asthmatics
UR -
ER -