An insight into the commercial piglet's microbial gut colonization : from birth towards weaning

Mireia Saladrigas-García, Mario Durán, Matilde D'angelo, Jaume Coma Subirà, José Francisco Pérez Hernández, Susana M. Martín Orúe

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10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The establishment of the gut microbiota can be influenced by several perinatal factors, including, most importantly, the maternal microbiota. Moreover, early-life environmental variation affects gut microbial colonization and the intestinal health of offspring throughout life. The present study aimed to explore the development of piglet gut microbiota from birth to weaning in the commercial practice and also to assess how different farm environments could condition this process. Although it is possible to find in the literature other studies with similar objectives this work probably represents one of the few studies that make a systematic evaluation of such differential factors under a real scenario. To achieve this objective, we performed two trials. In a first Trial, we selected 2 farms in which we performed an intensive sampling (5 samples /animal) to characterize the gut colonization pattern during the first days of life and to identify the time window with the greatest impact. Both farms differed in their health status and the use of antimicrobials in the piglets. In a second Trial, we selected 4 additional farms with variable rearing conditions and a distinctive use of antimicrobials in the sows with a simplified sampling pattern (2 samples/animal). Faecal samples were obtained with swabs and DNA was extracted by using the PSP® Spin Stool DNA Kit and sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene (V3-V4 region) performed by Illumina MiSeq Platform. The present study contributes to a better understanding of microbiome development during the transition from birth to weaning in commercial conditions. Alpha diversity was strongly affected by age, with an increased richness of species through time. Beta diversity decreased after weaning, suggesting a convergent evolvement among individuals. We pinpointed the early intestinal colonizers belonging to Bacteroides, Escherichia-Shigella, Clostridium sensu stricto 1, and Fusobacterium genera. During lactation(d7-d21 of life), the higher relative abundances of Bacteroides and Lactobacillus genera were correlated with a milk-oriented microbiome. As the piglets aged and after weaning (d36 of life), increasing abundances of genera such as Prevotella, Butyricimonas, Christensenellaceae R-7 group, Dorea, Phascolarctobacterium, Rikenellaceae RC9 gut group, Subdoligranulum, and Ruminococcaceae UCG-002 were observed. These changes indicate the adaptation of the piglets to a cereal-based diet rich in oligosaccharides and starch. Our results also show that the farm can have a significant impact in such a process, evidencing the influence of different environments and rearing systems on the gut microbiota development of the young piglet. Differences between farms were more noticeable after weaning than during lactation with changes in alpha and beta biodiversity and specific taxa. The analysis of such differences suggests that piglets receiving intramuscular amoxicillin (days 2-5 of life) and being offered an acidifying rehydrating solution (Alpha farm in Trial 1) have a greater alpha diversity and more abundant Lactobacillus population. Moreover, the only farm that did not offer any rehydrating solution (Foxtrot farm in Trial 2) showed a lower alpha diversity (day 2 of life) and increased abundance of Enterobacteriaceae (both at 2 and 21 days). The use of in-feed antibiotics in the sows was also associated with structural changes in the piglets' gut ecosystem although without changes in richness or diversity. Significant shifts could be registered in different microbial groups, particularly lower abundances of Fusobacterium in those piglets from medicated sows. In conclusion, during the first weeks of life, the pig microbiota showed a relevant succession of microbial groups towards a more homogeneous and stable ecosystem better adapted to the solid dry feed. In this relevant early-age process, the rearing conditions, the farm environment, and particularly the antimicrobial use in piglets and mothers determine changes that could have a relevant impact on gut microbiota maturation. More research is needed to elucidate the relative impact of these farm-induced early life-long changes in the growing pig. The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s42523-022-00221-9.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Microbiome
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Pig
  • Suckling piglet
  • Weaning
  • Microbiota
  • Colonization
  • Lactation
  • Gut health
  • Commercial farm

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