The upper respiratory tract microbiome and its potential role in bovine respiratory disease and otitis media.

PubMed ID: 27363739


Lima SF, Teixeira AG, Higgins CH, Lima FS, Bicalho RC

Sci Rep. Jul 2016. doi: 10.1038/srep29050

The upper respiratory tract (URT) hosts a complex microbial community of commensal microorganisms and potential pathogens. Analyzing the composition and nature of the healthy URT microbiota and how it changes over time will contribute to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of pneumonia and otitis. A longitudinal study was conducted including 174 Holstein calves that were divided in four groups: healthy calves, calves diagnosed with pneumonia, otitis or both diseases. Deep pharyngeal swabs were collected on days 3, 14, 28, and 35 of life, and next-generation sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene as well as quantitative PCR was performed. The URT of Holstein dairy calves aged 3 to 35 days revealed to host a highly diverse bacterial community. The relative abundances of the bacterial genera Mannheimia, Moraxella, and Mycoplasma were significantly higher in diseased versus healthy animals, and the total bacterial load of newborn calves at day 3 was higher for animals that developed pneumonia than for healthy animals. Our results corroborate the existing knowledge that species of Mannheimia and Mycoplasma are important pathogens in pneumonia and otitis. Furthermore, they suggest that species of Moraxella can potentially cause the same disorders (pneumonia and otitis), and that high neonatal bacterial load is a key contributor to the development of pneumonia.