Similar to humans, the fecal microbiome of dogs may be useful in diagnosing diseases or assessing dietary interventions. The accuracy and reproducibility of microbiome data depend on sample integrity, which can be affected by storage methods. Here, we evaluated the ability of a stabilization device to preserve canine fecal samples under various storage conditions simulating shipping in hot or cold climates. Microbiota data from unstabilized samples stored at room temperature (RT) and samples placed in PERFORMAbiome·GUT collection devices (PB-200) (DNA Genotek, Inc. Ottawa, Canada) and stored at RT, 37 °C, 50 °C, or undergoing repeated freeze–thaw cycles, were compared with freshly extracted samples. Alpha- and beta diversity indices were not affected in stabilized samples, regardless of storage temperature. Unstabilized samples stored at RT, however, had higher alpha diversity. Moreover, the relative abundance of dominant bacterial phyla (Firmicutes, Fusobacteria, Bacteriodetes, and Actinobacteria) and 24 genera were altered in unstabilized samples stored at RT, while microbiota abundance was not significantly changed in stabilized samples stored at RT. Our results suggest that storage method is important in microbiota studies and that the stabilization device may be useful in maintaining microbial profile integrity, especially for samples collected off-site and/or those undergoing temperature changes during shipment or storage.
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