Culturomics approaches expand the diagnostic accuracy for sexually transmitted infections

Ellinor Anna Wolf, Hannah Clara Rettig, Mariia Lupatsii, Britta Schlüter, Kathrin Schäfer, Dirk Friedrich, Simon Graspeuntner, Jan Rupp*

*Corresponding author for this work


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a major health concern with clinical manifesta-tions being acknowledged to cause severe reproductive impairment. Research in infectious diseases has been centered around the known major pathogens for decades. However, we have just begun to understand that the microbiota of the female genital tract is of particular importance for disease initiation, infection progression, and pathological outcome. Thus, we are now aware that many poorly described, partially not yet known, or cultured bacteria may pave the way for an infection and/or contribute to disease severity. While sequencing-based methods are an important step in diagnosing STIs, culture-based methods are still the gold-standard method in diagnostic routine, providing the opportunity to distinguish phenotypic traits of bacteria. However, current diagnostic culture routines suffer from several limitations reducing the content of information about vaginal microbiota. A detailed characterization of microbiota-associated factors is needed to assess the impact of single-bacterial isolates from the vaginal community on vaginal health and the containment of STIs. Here we provide current concepts to enable modern culture routines and create new ideas to improve diagnostic approaches with a conjunct usage of bioinformatics. We aim to enable scientists and physicians alike to overcome long-accepted limitations in culturing bacteria of interest to the human health. Eventually, this may improve the quality of culture-based diagnostics, facilitate a research interface, and lead to a broader understanding of the role of vaginal microbiota in reproductive health and STIs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10815
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2021

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 204-03 Medical Microbiology and Mycology, Hygiene, Molecular Infection Biology
  • 204-05 Immunology


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