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Murine norovirus infection does not cause major disruptions in the murine intestinal microbiota

Adam M Nelson12, Michael D Elftman3, Amelia K Pinto4, Megan Baldridge5, Patrick Hooper3, Justin Kuczynski6, Joseph F Petrosino7, Vincent B Young23 and Christiane E Wobus3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

3 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School, 5622 Medical Sciences Bldg. II, 1150 West Medical Center Drive, 48109-5620, Ann Arbor, USA

4 Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO, USA

5 Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, MO, St Louis, USA

6 Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA

7 Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA

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Microbiome 2013, 1:7  doi:10.1186/2049-2618-1-7

Published: 18 February 2013



Murine norovirus (MNV) is the most common gastrointestinal pathogen of research mice and can alter research outcomes in biomedical mouse models of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Despite indications that an altered microbiota is a risk factor for IBD, the response of the murine intestinal microbiota to MNV infection has not been examined. Microbiota disruption caused by MNV infection could introduce the confounding effects observed in research experiments. Therefore, this study investigated the effects of MNV infection on the intestinal microbiota of wild-type mice.


The composition of the intestinal microbiota was assessed over time in both outbred Swiss Webster and inbred C57BL/6 mice following MNV infection. Mice were infected with both persistent and non-persistent MNV strains and tissue-associated or fecal-associated microbiota was analyzed by 16S rRNA-encoding gene pyrosequencing. Analysis of intestinal bacterial communities in infected mice at the phylum and family level showed no major differences to uninfected controls, both in tissue-associated samples and feces, and also over time following infection, demonstrating that the intestinal microbiota of wild-type mice is highly resistant to disruption following MNV infection.


This is the first study to describe the intestinal microbiota following MNV infection and demonstrates that acute or persistent MNV infection is not associated with major disruptions of microbial communities in Swiss Webster and C57BL/6 mice.

Microbiome; Murine norovirus; Pyrosequencing