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Multiparous Holstein cow vaginal microbiome near parturition associated with neonatal fecal microbiome.

C. E. Owens




Multiparous Holstein cow vaginal microbiome near parturition associated with neonatal fecal microbiome.
C. E. Owens*, H. G. Huffard, A. I. Nin-Velez, A. J. Duncan, C. L. Teets, K. M. Daniels, K. F. Knowlton, R. R. Cockrum. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA.

Initial microbial inoculation of the calf gut is thought to stem from the dam's birth canal and colostrum; the objective of this study was to identify interrelationships between dam reproductive, colostrum, and calf fecal microbiomes. Multiparous Holstein cows (n = 6) were enrolled at 14 d before expected calving. At 10 d before expected calving, a calving alert system was placed on cows. Flocked swabs of the posterior vagina were collected within 24 h before calving. At birth, calves (n = 6; heifers = 3, bulls = 3) were immediately isolated and meconium samples were collected. Representative colostrum samples were collected within 1 h of calving and representative placenta samples were collected within 6 h of calving. Calf fecal samples were collected at 24 h and 7 d of age. Bacterial DNA was isolated from all samples and 16S rDNA amplicons underwent 2 � 300 paired end sequencing on the Illumina MiSeq platform. Sequences were aligned to the 97% Greengenes reference database in CLC Genomics Workbench. Alpha diversity was calculated using phylogenetic diversity and β diversity was calculated using weighted unifrac distances. Spearman's rank correlations were performed based on genera relative abundance in the placenta, vagina, and colostrum of a dam and its calf's meconium and fecal samples. Proteobacteria were the most abundant phylum in the placenta (48%), vagina (58%), colostrum (96%), and 24 h calf feces (85%), while Bacteroidetes were the most abundant phylum in meconium (43%) and 7 d calf feces (43%). Colostrum and placenta samples had the least phylogenetic diversity within each sample, but had a high similarity between samples. Genera in the vagina had a moderate correlation with genera in meconium (rs = 0.45 � 0.03). Genera in colostrum had a low correlation with 24 h calf feces (rs = 0.10 � 0.04). Dam vaginal microbiota could be used to predict calf gut composition. Further research on understanding these relationships could lead to discovery of core microbes that are the most influential on microbial composition.

Keywords: microbiome, calf, reproduction.

Biography: Connor Owens is a third year PhD student at Virginia Tech in Dr. Rebecca Cockrum's lab. His current research focuses on the interactions between bacteria and the reproductive tract before and after pregnancy. He is hoping to eventually use his work to develop methods that utilize bacteria to improve fertility.