An extensive portion of the healthcare budget is allocated to chronic human infection. Chronic wounds in particular are a major contributor to this financial burden. Little is known about the types of bacteria which may contribute to the chronicity, biofilm and overall bioburden of the wound itself. In this study we compare the bacteriology of wounds and associated intact skin. Wound and paired intact skin swabs (from a contralateral location) were collected. The bacterial diversity was determined using bacterial Tag-encoded FLX amplicon pyrosequencing (bTEFAP). Diversity analysis showed intact skin to be significantly more diverse than wounds on both the species and genus levels (3% and 5% divergence). Furthermore, wounds show heightened levels of anaerobic bacteria, like Peptoniphilus, Finegoldia, and Anaerococcus, and other detrimental genera such as Corynebacterium and Staphylococcus. Although some of these and other bacterial genera were found to be common between intact skin and wounds, notable opportunistic wound pathogens were found at lower levels in intact skin. Principal Component Analysis demonstrated a clear separability of the two groups. The findings of the study not only greatly support the hypothesis of differing bacterial composition of intact skin and wounds, but also contribute additional insight into the ecology of skin and wound microflora. The increased diversity and lowered levels of opportunistic pathogens found in skin make the system highly distinguishable from wounds.
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