Gut colonization by a novel Clostridium species is associated with the onset of epizootic rabbit enteropathy

Ana Djukovic, Marc Garcia-Garcera, Eugenio Martínez-Paredes, Sandrine Isaac, Alejandro Artacho, Jorge Martínez, Carles Ubeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

12 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018 The Author(s). Epizootic rabbit enteropathy (ERE) represents one of the most devastating diseases affecting rabbit farms. Previous studies showing transmissibility of disease symptoms through oral inoculation of intestinal contents from sick animals suggested a bacterial infectious origin for ERE. However, no etiological agent has been identified yet. On the other hand, ERE is associated with major changes in intestinal microbial communities, pinpointing dysbiosis as an alternative cause for the disease. To better understand the role of intestinal bacteria in ERE development, we have performed a prospective longitudinal study in which intestinal samples collected from the same animals before, during and after disease onset were analyzed using high-throughput sequencing. Changes in hundreds of bacterial groups were detected after the initiation of ERE. In contrast, before ERE onset, the microbiota from rabbits that developed ERE did not differ from those that remained healthy. Notably, an expansion of a single novel Clostridium species (Clostridium cuniculi) was detected the day of ERE onset. C. cuniculi encodes several putative toxins and it is phylogenetically related to the two well-characterized pathogens C. botulinum and C. perfringens. Our results are consistent with a bacterial infectious origin of ERE and discard dysbiosis as the initial trigger of the disease. Although experimental validation is required, results derived from sequencing analysis, propose a key role of C. cuniculi in ERE initiation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number123
Pages (from-to)123-
JournalVeterinary Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2018


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