Brent Jones from South West Ontario Veterinary Services,Diet, Gut Health And Intestinal Microbiota


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]


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