Sources of Variation in the Microbiome of Pre-Weaned Dairy Calves

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Virginia Tech


This study investigated the microbial colonization and maternal influences on the neonatal calf gut microbiome. Microbiome samples were collected from dams (n = 6) and calves (n = 6) using sterile flocked swabs. The vaginal, oral, and fecal bacterial communities were examined from the dam and the fecal community of calves was examined from birth to 60 d of age. Microbial communities varied by anatomical location and age of the calf. Metagenomic analysis 16s ribosomal DNA revealed ten phyla associated with microbiomes of the dam and the same ten phyla associated with calf feces at various time points: Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, Spirochaetes, Tenericutes, Fibrobacteres, and Lentisphaerae. Overall, the calf meconium and fecal microbiome is influenced by a combination of the maternal vagina, oral, and fecal microbiomes. Further studies will be needed to identify the transference mechanisms of maternal microbes to offspring and the associated host-microbial interactions.



microbiome, dairy calves, microbiota, gut health