Phytobiotics impact bacterial populations in the gut of weaned pigs


The change in diet and environmental transition of weaned piglets from the farrowing room to the nursery often results in weight loss due to minimal feed and water consumption, and can include post-weaning diarrhea and intestinal dysfunction. Alterations in the intestinal microbiota and the gastrointestinal tract of the pig have direct effects on digestion, immunity and barrier function, thus affecting feed efficiency. As additions to feed or water, phytobiotics have shown promise in alleviating some of the negative effects of weaning on the health and growth of piglets.

Phytobiotics are products derived from plants containing any number of biologically active compounds capable of, for example:

  • Boost food intake and feed efficiency
  • Provide antimicrobial effects and reduce mortality, and
  • Changing the composition of the gastrointestinal microbiota

In the off-site barn at South Dakota State University, two pens of 25 newly weaned pigs each were selected to receive water without or with the commercially available phytobiotic, LiveXtract Grazix (Precision Health Technologies , Brookings, SD). Both pens received water from the same county water source, except that the product was injected into the treatment pen’s water line via a metered chemical injector (HN55; Hydro Systems Company, Cincinnati, Ohio) at a ratio of 1: 128. Water with phytobiotics was provided for the first seven days of the nursery period. Individual pigs (16 per group) were selected on the basis of body weight for collection of fresh fecal samples before the start of treatment and then thereafter on days 4, 10 and 21 of the nursery period. Samples were stored frozen until microbial DNA was extracted for analysis after completion of the assay. Because they can be obtained by non-invasive methods, fecal samples are commonly used as a proxy to assess differences in intestinal bacterial composition between experimental groups. Analysis consisted of PCR amplification of the 16S rRNA gene, followed by next-generation sequencing to determine the sequence composition of the 16S rRNA gene from each sample (sequencing service was provided by the South Dakota State University Genomic Sequencing Facility).

Since the 16S rRNA gene is present in all bacterial species, it can be used as a reference to determine the different types of bacterial species present in a fecal sample. This technique allows the identification of characterized and uncharacterized bacterial species, providing a more complete assessment of gut microbial composition compared to culture techniques. Bacterial species identified by the DNA sequence of their 16S rRNA gene are called Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs), and their respective abundance in a sample can be determined from the frequency of their DNA sequence in the pool. DNA sequences generated from each sample.

When comparing the bacterial composition between treated and untreated pigs, the abundance of 13 OTUs, each representing a distinct bacterial species, varied in abundance between groups. Three OTUs found higher in fecal samples from the phytobiotic treatment group belonged to the genus Lactobacilli, a bacterial group associated with positive health effects, limitation of the growth of pathogens, and improvements in intestinal immunity. Specifically, the three OTUs represented candidate strains of L. reuteri, L. salivarius, and L. amylovrus, respectively. In contrast, the abundances of two other OTUs that were lower in fecal samples from pigs treated with phytobiotics were identified as close relatives of Streptoccus alactolyticus, a species also reported to produce lactate. Finally, an OTU linked to Megasphaera elsdenii, a known lactate user, was found to be more abundant in samples from pigs treated with phytobiotics. Taken together, these results indicate that phytobiotics may impact populations of lactic acid producers and users in the gut of young pigs.

Weaned piglets are subject to nutritional and environmental stressors as they move from the farrowing room to the nursery. These stressors can disrupt the establishment of a stable intestinal environment, which can lead to disease and / or impaired nutrient absorption. Phytobiotics have the potential to improve the microbial balance in the gut of young pigs, which improves health and feed efficiency. Specifically, LiveXtract affected the abundance of lactic acid-producing and utilizing bacteria, presumably modulating the levels of a metabolite important for gut health that may act as an inhibitor of pathogens and / or as a substrate for the production of propionate, which can be metabolized through the intestines. cells. Further research on the biochemical and metabolic functions of plant-based feed and aqueous additives therefore represents a promising avenue towards the development of future products that may be beneficial for the intestinal health of pigs in nurseries.

Source: Ryan Samuel, Anlly Rueda, Benoit St-Pierre, South Dakota State University, who are solely responsible for the information provided and are fully owners of it. Informa Business Media and all of its subsidiaries are not responsible for the content of this information asset. The opinions of this author are not necessarily those of Farm Progress / Informa.


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