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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Meat Safety and Quality » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #386968

Research Project: Mitigation Approaches for Foodborne Pathogens in Cattle and Swine for Use During Production and Processing

Location: Meat Safety and Quality

Title: Resistomes and microbiomes of meat trimmings and colon content from culled cows raised in conventional and organic production systems

item Weinroth, Margaret - Maggie
item THOMAS, KEVIN - Colorado State University
item DOSTER, ENRIQUE - Colorado State University
item VIKRAM, AMIT - Intralytix, Inc
item Schmidt, John
item Arthur, Terrance
item Wheeler, Tommy
item PARKER, JENNIFER - Colorado State University
item HANES, AYANNA - Colorado State University
item ALEKOZA, NAJLA - Colorado State University
item WOLFE, CORY - Colorado State University
item METCALF, JESSICA - Colorado State University
item MORLEY, PAUL - Texas A&M University
item BELK, KEITH - Colorado State University

Submitted to: Animal Microbiome
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/4/2022
Publication Date: 4/1/2022
Citation: Weinroth, M.D., Thomas, K.M., Doster, E., Vikram, A., Schmidt, J.W., Arthur, T.M., Wheeler, T.L., Parker, J.K., Hanes, A.S., Alekoza, N., Wolfe, C., Metcalf, J.L., Morley, P.S., Belk, K.E. 2022. Resistomes and microbiomes of meat trimmings and colon content from culled cows raised in conventional and organic production systems. Animal Microbiome. 4. Article 21.

Interpretive Summary: Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a public health concern and there is worry that using antibiotics in food animal production could lead to antibiotics being ineffective in human healthcare. Culled cows make up a significant portion of the U.S. beef supply and this study determined whether antibiotic resistance genes differed among beef and dairy culled cows from organic and non-organic production systems. We found that less than half of the meat samples had any antibiotic resistance genes. Additionally, the production system animals were raised in did not affect the kinds or levels of antibiotic resistance genes on the meat. These findings provide a baseline understanding of what antibiotic resistance genes are present in culled cow meat and that organic production did not reduce the antibiotic resistance genes on the meat product.

Technical Abstract: The potential to distribute bacteria resistant to antimicrobial drugs in the meat supply is a public health concern. Market cows make up a fifth of the U.S. beef produced but little is known about the entire population of bacteria (the microbiome) and entirety of all resistance genes (the resistome) that are found in this population. The objective of this study was to characterize and compare the resistomes and microbiomes of beef, dairy, and organic dairy market cows at slaughter. Fifty-four (N = 54) composite samples of both colon content and meat trimmings rinsate samples were collected over six visits to two harvest facilities from cows raised in three different production systems: conventional beef, conventional dairy, and organic dairy (n = 9 samples per visit per production system). Metagenomic DNA obtained from samples were analyzed using target-enriched sequencing and 16S rRNA gene sequencing to characterize the microbiomes and resistomes, respectively. All colon-content samples had at least one identifiable antimicrobial resistance gene (ARG), while 21 of the 54 meat trimmings samples harbor at least one identifiable ARGs. Tetracycline ARGs were the most abundant class in both colon content and carcass meat trimmings. Beta-lactam ARGs were the most abundant class in final meat trimmings. The resistome found on carcass meat trimmings were not significantly different by production system (P = 0.835, R2 = 0.00) or harvest facility (P = 0.104, R2 = 0.09). However, the resistome of colon contents differed (P = 0.013; R2 = 0.05) among production systems, but not among the harvest facilities (P = 0.41; R2 = 0.00). Amplicon sequencing revealed differences (P < 0.05) in microbial population structure in both meat trimmings and colon content between harvest facilities but not production system (P > 0.05). These data provide a baseline characterization of an important segment of the beef industry and highlight the effect that the production system where cattle are raised in as well as facility’s environmental factors can impact associated microbiomes and resistomes.