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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Genetics and Animal Breeding » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337781

Research Project: Genomic and Metagenomic Approaches to Enhance Efficient and Sustainable Production of Beef Cattle

Location: Genetics and Animal Breeding

Title: Vaginal and uterine bacterial communities in postpartum lactating cows

item CLEMMONS, BROOKE - University Of Tennessee
item REESE, SYDNEY - University Of Tennessee
item DANTAS, FELIPE - University Of Tennessee
item FRANCO, GESSICA - University Of Tennessee
item Smith, Timothy - Tim
item ADEYOSOYE, OLUSOJI - Obafemi Awolowo University
item POHLER, KY - University Of Tennessee
item MYER, PHILLIP - University Of Tennessee

Submitted to: Frontiers in Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/24/2017
Publication Date: 6/8/2017
Citation: Clemmons, B.A., Reese, S.T., Dantas, F.G., Franco, G.A., Smith, T.P., Adeyosoye, O.I., Pohler, K.G., Myer, P.R. 2017. Vaginal and uterine bacterial communities in postpartum lactating cows. Frontiers in Microbiology. 8:1047.

Interpretive Summary: Recent studies have shown that differences in the microbial populations of the vagina can be associated with aspects of fertility in human women. The study presented here catalogs the microbial populations of cattle vagina and uterus after hormonal synchronization prior to artificial insemination. The data establish a baseline of the microbial profiles of animals that appear healthy but fail to achieve pregnancy.

Technical Abstract: Reproductive inefficiency in cattle has major impacts on overall productivity of beef and dairy operations, increasing the environmental footprint of these industries and thereby reducing sustainability. Decreased reproductive success and associated disease states have been correlated with the presence of specific microbes and microbial community profiles, yet details of the relationship between microbial communities and host physiology are not well known. The present study profiles and compares the microbial communities in the bovine uterus and vagina using 16S rRNA sequencing of the V1-V3 hypervariable region at the time of artificial insemination. Significant differences (p<0.05) between the vaginal and uterine communities were observed at the level of a- diversity metrics, including Chao1, Shannon’s Diversity Index, and observed OTU. Greater clustering of vaginal OTU was apparent in principal coordinate analysis compared to uterine OTU, despite greater diversity in the vaginal community in both weighted and unweighted UniFrac distance matrices (p<0.05). There was a significantly greater relative abundance of unassigned taxa in the uterus (p=0.008), otherwise there were few differences between the overall community profiles. Both vaginal and uterine communities were dominated by Firmicutes, although the relative abundance of rRNA sequences corresponding to species in this phylum was significantly (p=0.007) lower in the uterine community. Additional differences were observed at the genus level, specifically in abundances within Clostridium (p=0.009), Anaerofustis (p=0.018), Atopobium (p=0.035), Oscillospira (p=0.035), 5-7N15 (p=0.035), Mycoplasma (p=0.035), Odoribacter (p=0.042), and within the families Clostridiaceae (p=0.006), Alcaligenaceae (p=0.021), and Ruminococcaceae (p=0.021). Overall, the comparison revealed differences and commonalities among bovine reproductive organs, which may be influenced by host physiology such as changing hormone levels. The study represents an initial dataset for evaluating changes in microbial communities during establishment of pregnancy, and investigation of potential relationships of these changes with pregnancy loss, disease prevalence, or reduced fertility.