Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Timothy Johnson Publishes Pig study in the Journal of Animal Science

April 10, 2018
Johnson, Tim Microbiome of Pigs Publication graph

The paper, "Microbiome Profiling of Commercial Pigs from Farrow to Finish," by Brenda De Rodas, Bonnie Youmans, Jessica Danzeisen, Huyen Tran, and Timothy Johnson was done in collaboration with Purina Animal Nutrition. The study profiled the microbiome of the pig across time and space to better understand how it differs from tissue-to-tissue and as the pig ages. 

Balanced bacterial communities within the gastrointestinal tract of animals are a key component of gut health resulting in optimal performance and the prevention of disease. The purpose of this study was to characterize the commercial pig’s baseline bacterial microbiome over time and across anatomical site. Several anatomical sites (duodenum/jejunum, ileum, cecum, and colon) were examined across multiple ages (days 0, 10, 21, 33, 62, 84, and market) for bacterial microbiome structure using 16S rRNA V4 region sequencing with Illumina MiSeq. General trends in the succession of the bacterial microbiome were observed over age, such as increasing populations of Clostridia and decreasing populations of Gammaproteobacteria (P<0.05). However, apparent disruptions in the microbiome were also observed that did not follow these trends, specifically at sampling 24 hours post-weaning where Lactobacillaceae were drastically reduced in relative abundance (P<0.05). The introduction of solid feed between days 21 and 33 had the greatest overall impact on bacterial community structure as compared to the effects of age, changes in solid feed type, and pig movement. A core bacterial microbiome was identified across all anatomical sites consisting of the dominant OTUs; samples were only differentiated based upon anatomical site when considering less abundant OTUs and differences in relative abundance. When considering mucosal versus digesta samples from the cecum and ileum, several taxa were of significantly higher relative abundance in the mucosa (P<0.05), including AnaerovibrioBacteroidesDesulfovibrioHelicobacterOscillospiraPhascolarctobacterium, and Prevotella. Correlations between several genus-level taxa and pig weight were observed. Overall, this study provides an expanded view of the dynamic pig gastrointestinal microbiome from farrow to finish.