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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2017 Dec 15;84(1). pii: e01738-17. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01738-17. Print 2018 Jan 1.

Interactions of the Hindgut Mucosa-Associated Microbiome with Its Host Regulate Shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 by Cattle.

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Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, Lethbridge, AB, Canada.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Lethbridge, AB, Canada.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada.
Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada


Cattle are the primary carrier of Escherichia coli O157:H7, a foodborne human pathogen, and those shedding >104 CFU/gram of feces of E. coli O157:H7 are defined as supershedders (SS). This study investigated the rectoanal junction (RAJ) mucosa-associated microbiota and its relationship with host gene expression in SS and in cattle from which E. coli O157:H7 was not detected (nonshedders [NS]), aiming to elucidate the mechanisms involved in supershedding. In total, 14 phyla, 66 families, and 101 genera of RAJ mucosa-associated bacteria were identified and Firmicutes (61.5 ± 7.5%), Bacteroidetes (27.9 ± 6.4%), and Proteobacteria (5.5 ± 2.1%) were the predominant phyla. Differential abundance analysis of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) identified 2 OTUs unique to SS which were members of Bacteroides and Clostridium and 7 OTUs unique to NS which were members of Coprococcus, Prevotella, Clostridium, and Paludibacter Differential abundance analysis of predicted microbial functions (using PICRUSt [phylogenetic investigation of communities by reconstruction of unobserved states]) revealed that 3 pathways had higher abundance (log2 fold change, 0.10 to 0.23) whereas 12 pathways had lower abundance (log2 fold change, -0.36 to -0.20) in SS. In addition, we identified significant correlations between expression of 19 differentially expressed genes and the relative abundance of predicted microbial functions, including nucleic acid polymerization and carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism. Our findings suggest that differences in RAJ microbiota at both the compositional and functional levels may be associated with E. coli O157:H7 supershedding and that certain microbial groups and microbial functions may influence RAJ physiology of SS by affecting host gene expression.IMPORTANCE Cattle with fecal E. coli O157:H7 at >104 CFU per gram of feces have been defined as the supershedders, and they are responsible for the most of the E. coli O157:H7 spread into farm environment. Currently, no method is available for beef producers to eliminate shedding of E. coli O157:H7 in cattle, and the lack of information about the mechanisms of supershedding greatly impedes the development of effective methods. This study investigated the role of the rectoanal junction (RAJ) mucosa-associated microbiome in E. coli O157:H7 shedding, and our results indicated that the compositions and functions of RAJ microbiota differed between supershedders and nonshedders. The identified relationship between the differentially abundant microbes and 19 previously identified differentially expressed genes suggests the role of host-microbial interactions involved in E. coli O157:H7 supershedding. Our findings provide a fundamental understanding of the supershedding phenomenon which is essential for the development of strategies, such as the use of directly fed microbials, to reduce E. coli O157:H7 shedding in cattle.


E. coli O157; E. coli O157:H7; cattle; gene expression; microbiome; rectoanal junction

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