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Colonic microbiome profiles for improved feed efficiency can be identified despite major effects of farm of origin and contemporary group in pigs

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2020

S. Vigors
School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
J. V. O’ Doherty
School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
T. Sweeney*
School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
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While feed efficiency (FE) is a trait of great economic importance to the pig industry, the influence of the intestinal microbiome in determining FE is not well understood. The objective of this experiment was to determine the relative influence of FE and farm of birth on the pig colonic microbiome. Animals divergent in residual feed intake (RFI) were sourced from two geographically distinct locations (farms A + B) in Ireland. The 8 most efficient (low RFI (LRFI)) and 8 least efficient (high RFI, (HRFI)) pigs from farm A and 12 LRFI and 12 HRFI pigs from farm B were sacrificed. Colonic digesta was collected for microbial analysis using 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing and also for volatile fatty acid analysis. The α-diversity differed between the farms in this study, with pigs from farm A having greater diversity based on Shannon and InvSimpson measures compared to pigs from farm B (P < 0.05), with no difference identified in either Chao1 or observed measures of diversity (P > 0.05). In the analysis of β-diversity, pigs clustered based on farm of birth rather than RFI. Variation in the management of piglets, weight of the piglets, season of the year, sanitary status and dam dietary influence could potentially be causative factors in this large variation between farms. However, despite significant variation in the microbial profile between farms, consistent taxonomic differences were identified between RFI groups. Within the phylum Bacteroidetes, the LRFI pigs had increased abundance of BS11 (P < 0.05) and a tendency toward increased Bacteroidaceae (P < 0.10) relative to the HRFI group. At genus level, the LRFI pigs had increased abundance of Colinsella (P < 0.05), a tendency toward increased Bacteroides and CF231 (P < 0.10). At species level, Ruminococcus flavefaciens had increased abundance in the LRFI compared to the HRFI animals. In conclusion, while farm of birth has a substantial influence on microbial diversity in the pig colon, a microbial signature indicative of FE status was apparent.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Animal Consortium

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