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Little cigars and cigarillos harbor diverse bacterial communities that differ between the tobacco and the wrapper.

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PubMed ID: 30794551

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Chattopadhyay S, Smyth EM, Kulkarni P, Babik KR, Reid M, Hittle LE, Clark PI, Mongodin EF, Sapkota AR

PLoS One. 2019. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211705

COMMENT: The bacterial diversity of little cigars and cigarillos is pretty unknown.The authors of this study analyzed the tobacco and wrappers of cigars and cigarillos of four different brands and characterized their bacterial community composition. They sequenced the V3V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene.

They found that bacterial communities of little cigars and cigarillos are highly diverse, in addition, they differ significantly between the tobacco and the wrapper, and across brands

The top five bacterial phyla identified across all brands, lots and sample types (tobacco and wrapper) were Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Chlorobi. The tobacco samples were dominated by Proteobacteria compared to the wrapper samples... In contrast, wrappers were dominated by Firmicutes

Furthermore, the authors identified several potential pathogens in tested products.

For instance, Pseudomonas pseudoalcaligenes and Staphylococcus sciuri were detected at a high relative abundance in little cigar tobacco samples. Previous studies have shown that P. pseudoalcaligenes is a potential causative agent of human infections, including peritonitis (inflammation of the inner wall of the abdomen) and S. sciuri is an emerging human pathogen causing endocarditis, urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammatory diseases, wound infections and septic shock ... Nevertheless, in order for potential pathogens present in little cigars to impact the health of users, these microorganisms would first have to survive the combustion process and then be transferred to the upper respiratory system via mainstream smoke.

In summary, our findings suggest that the bacterial microbiota of little cigar tobacco and wrappers is diverse and distinct, and bacterial communities vary across brands.

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Carmen Martín