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Response of Beef Cattle Fecal Microbiota to Grazing on Toxic Tall Fescue.

Mote, Ryan S; Hill, Nicholas S; Skarlupka, Joseph H; Turner, Zachary B; Sanders, Zachary P; Jones, Dean P; Suen, Garret; Filipov, Nikolay M.
Appl Environ Microbiol; 85(15)2019 08 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31126949
Tall fescue, the predominant southeastern United States cool-season forage grass, frequently becomes infected with an ergot alkaloid-producing toxic endophyte, Epichloë coenophialum Consumption of endophyte-infected fescue results in fescue toxicosis (FT), a condition that lowers beef cow productivity. Limited data on the influence of ergot alkaloids on rumen fermentation profiles or ruminal bacteria that could degrade the ergot alkaloids are available, but how FT influences the grazing bovine fecal microbiota or what role fecal microbiota might play in FT etiology and associated production losses has yet to be investigated. Here, we used 16S rRNA gene sequencing of fecal samples from weaned Angus steers grazing toxic endophyte-infected (E+; n = 6) or nontoxic (Max-Q; n = 6) tall fescue before and 1, 2, 14, and 28 days after pasture assignment. Bacteria in the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes phyla comprised 90% of the Max-Q and E+ steer fecal microbiota throughout the trial. Early decreases in the Erysipelotrichaceae family and delayed increases of the Ruminococcaceae and Lachnospiraceae families were among the major effects of E+ grazing. E+ also increased abundances within the Planctomycetes, Chloroflexi, and Proteobacteria phyla and the Clostridiaceae family. Multiple operational taxonomic units classified as Ruminococcaceae and Lachnospiraceae were correlated negatively with weight gains (lower in E+) and positively with respiration rates (increased by E+). These data provide insights into how E+ grazing alters the Angus steer microbiota and the relationship of fecal microbiota dynamics with FT.IMPORTANCE Consumption of E+ tall fescue has an estimated annual $1 billion negative impact on the U.S. beef industry, with one driver of these costs being lowered weight gains. As global agricultural demand continues to grow, mitigating production losses resulting from grazing the predominant southeastern United States forage grass is of great value. Our investigation of the effects of E+ grazing on the fecal microbiota furthers our understanding of bovine fescue toxicosis in a real-world grazing production setting and provides a starting point for identifying easy-to-access fecal bacteria that could serve as potential biomarkers of animal productivity and/or FT severity for tall fescue-grazing livestock.
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