Understanding the interaction between pig diet, gut health and intestinal microbiota is an important area of research and can provide clues to developing alternatives to antimicrobial use for disease control in livestock production systems. Lower crude dietary protein levels can reduce the impacts of post-weaning colibacillosis (PWC), which is caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC). The ETEC are known to target the far end of the small intestine (ileum). Scottish researchers set up a study in which the microbial compositions of both the small intestine and feces were analysed with and without ETEC exposure from pigs fed either a low or high protein diet.
The researchers found that a combination of increased dietary protein and ETEC exposure impacted on ileal microbiota alpha diversity (richness and diversity indices) and beta diversity (structure, stability and relative taxa abundances). The combination of a high protein diet and ETEC exposure had the most profound impact on ileal microbiota composition. An understanding of how infection and nutrition lead to microbiota changes is likely to be required if dietary strategies are to be developed for the management of enteric diseases.
Take Home Messages:
- A concurrent increase in dietary protein and exposure to a pathogenic micro-organism such as enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli changed the diversity of bacterial populations in the distal small intestine (ileum) but not the feces.
- This research highlights that it may be necessary to obtain samples from very specific biologically pertinent areas of the intestine in order to understand changes to the microbiota that can affect gut health. Relying on testing the fecal microbiome alone can be misleading.
Submitted by Brent Jones, DVM
Ref: Pollock J, Hutchings MR, Hutchings KEK, Gally DL, Houdijk JGM.Changes in the ileal, but not fecal, microbiome in response to increased dietary protein level and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli exposure in pigs. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2019 Jul 19. pii: AEM.01252-19. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01252-19. [Epub ahead of print]