Hot topic: 16S rRNA gene sequencing reveals the microbiome of the virgin and pregnant bovine uterus.

PubMed ID: 28434745


Moore SG, Ericsson AC, Poock SE, Melendez P, Lucy MC

J Dairy Sci. Jun 2017

We tested the hypothesis that the uterus of virgin heifers and pregnant cows possessed a resident microbiome by 16S rRNA gene sequencing of the virgin and pregnant bovine uterus. The endometrium of 10 virgin heifers in estrus and the amniotic fluid, placentome, intercotyledonary placenta, cervical lumen, and external cervix surface (control) of 5 pregnant cows were sampled using aseptic techniques. The DNA was extracted, the V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene was amplified, and amplicons were sequenced using Illumina MiSeq technology (Illumina Inc., San Diego, CA). Operational taxonomic units (OTU) were generated from the sequences using Qiime v1.8 software, and taxonomy was assigned using the Greengenes database. The effect of tissue on the microbial composition within the pregnant uterus was tested using univariate (mixed model) and multivariate (permutational multivariate ANOVA) procedures. Amplicons of 16S rRNA gene were generated in all samples, supporting the contention that the uterus of virgin heifers and pregnant cows contained a microbiome. On average, 53, 199, 380, 382, 525, and 13,589 reads annotated as 16, 35, 43, 63, 48, and 176 OTU in the placentome, virgin endometrium, amniotic fluid, cervical lumen, intercotyledonary placenta, and external surface of the cervix, respectively, were generated. The 3 most abundant phyla in the uterus of the virgin heifers and pregnant cows were Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, and Proteobacteria, and they accounted for approximately 40, 35, and 10% of the sequences, respectively. Phyla abundance was similar between the tissues of the pregnant uterus. Principal component analysis, one-way PERMANOVA analysis of the Bray-Curtis similarity index, and mixed model analysis of the Shannon diversity index and Chao1 index demonstrated that the microbiome of the control tissue (external surface of the cervix) was significantly different from that of the amniotic fluid, intercotyledonary placenta, and placentome tissues. Interestingly, many bacterial species associated with postpartum uterine disease (i.e., Trueperella spp., Acinetobacter spp., Fusobacteria spp., Proteus spp., Prevotella spp., and Peptostreptococcus spp.) were also present in the uterus of virgin heifers and of pregnant cows. The presence of 16S rRNA gene sequence reads in the samples from the current study suggests that the uterine microbiome is established by the time a female reaches reproductive maturity, and that pregnancies are established and maintained in the presence of a uterine microbiome.