The microflora of the anterior male urethra during adolescence is poorly described and currently there is no data that address the range of "typical" urethral microflora during adolescence (like the functions of pubertal development or the onset of various types of partnered sexual activity). This means that the current understanding of the urethral microbiome in adoloescent men rests entirely on data drawn from adults and from epidemiologic and behavioral explanations. Marked ethnic group variation in adolescent sexual behavior and disparity in conditions such as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), justify the exploration of the potential ethnic group differences in the male urethral microflora. Some research among adult males suggests important interactions between the urethral microflora and STIs, but this research has not be extended to younger men.
This project is designed to describe the diversity of the normal adolescent male urethral microbiome, the changes associated with puberty and to link the microbiome to potential health conditions such as Sexually Transmitted Infections. We are characterizing the male urethral microbiome in longitudinal urine samples collected from a multi-ethnic cohort of adolescent males. The Microbial flora will be assessed as a function of pubertal development, sexual activity and incident STIs. Participants will be recruited from an urban clinic with an area of high prevelance of STIs. Urine will be collected for characterization of microflora using high-throughput 16s rRNA phylogeny, Quantitative PCR (qPCR) and metagenomic sequencing. STI testing will also be performed to better understand the interactions between the urethral microbiome and the infection.