Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Pigs through Microbial Modulation via Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in Sows and Dietary Supplementation of Inulin in Offspring

Ursula M McCormack, Tânia Curião, Barbara U Metzler-Zebeli, Toby Wilkinson, Henry Reyer, Fiona Crispie, Paul D Cotter, Christopher J Creevey, Gillian E Gardiner, Peadar G Lawlor

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Abstract

As previous studies have demonstrated a link between the porcine intestinal microbiome and feed efficiency (FE), microbiota manipulation may offer a means of improving FE in pigs. A fecal microbiota transplantation procedure (FMTp), using fecal extracts from highly feed-efficient pigs, was performed in pregnant sows (n = 11), with a control group (n = 11) receiving no FMTp. At weaning, offspring were allocated, within sow treatment, to (i) control (n = 67; no dietary supplement) or (ii) inulin (n = 65; 6-week dietary inulin supplementation) treatments. The sow FMTp, alone or in combination with inulin supplementation in offspring, reduced offspring body weight by 8.1 to 10.6 kg at ∼140 days of age, but there was no effect on feed intake. It resulted in better FE, greater bacterial diversity, and higher relative abundances of potentially beneficial bacterial taxa (Fibrobacter and Prevotella) in offspring. Due to the FMTp and/or inulin supplementation, relative abundances of potential pathogens (Chlamydia and Treponema) in the ileum and cecal concentrations of butyric acid were significantly lower. The maternal FMTp led to a greater number of jejunal goblet cells in offspring. Inulin supplementation alone did not affect growth or FE but upregulated duodenal genes linked to glucose and volatile fatty acid homeostasis and increased the mean platelet volume but reduced ileal propionic acid concentrations, granulocyte counts, and serum urea concentrations. Overall, the FMTp in pregnant sows, with or without dietary inulin supplementation in offspring, beneficially modulated offspring intestinal microbiota (albeit mostly low-relative-abundance taxa) and associated physiological parameters. Although FE was improved, the detrimental effect on growth limits the application of this FMTp-inulin strategy in commercial pig production.IMPORTANCE As previous research suggests a link between microbiota and FE, modulation of the intestinal microbiome may be effective in improving FE in pigs. The FMTp in gestating sows, alone or in combination with postweaning dietary inulin supplementation in offspring, achieved improvements in FE and resulted in a higher relative abundance of intestinal bacteria associated with fiber degradation and a lower relative abundance of potential pathogens. However, there was a detrimental effect on growth, although this may not be wholly attributable to microbiota transplantation, as antibiotic and other interventions were also part of the FMT regimen. Therefore, further work with additional control groups is needed to disentangle the effects of each component of the FMTp in order to develop a regimen with practical applications in pig production. Additional research based on findings from this study may also identify specific dietary supplements for the promotion/maintenance of the microbiota transferred via the maternal FMTp, thereby optimizing pig growth and FE.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01255-19
Number of pages18
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume85
Issue number22
Early online date30 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 30 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.

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    McCormack, U. M., Curião, T., Metzler-Zebeli, B. U., Wilkinson, T., Reyer, H., Crispie, F., Cotter, P. D., Creevey, C. J., Gardiner, G. E., & Lawlor, P. G. (2019). Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Pigs through Microbial Modulation via Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in Sows and Dietary Supplementation of Inulin in Offspring. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 85(22), [e01255-19]. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01255-19