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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Characterisation of the bacterial microbiota of the vagina of dairy cows and isolation of pediocin-producing Pediococcus acidilactici

Yvonne Wang1, Burim N Ametaj1, Divakar J Ambrose12 and Michael G Gänzle1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Agricultural, University of Alberta, Food and Nutritional Science, 4-10 Ag/For Centre, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2P5, Canada

2 Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Agriculture Research Division, Edmonton, AB, T6H 5T6, Canada

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BMC Microbiology 2013, 13:19  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-19

Published: 29 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Uterine infections in dairy cows lower profitability of dairy operations. Infections of the reproductive tract are related to the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria during the first three weeks after parturition. However, alterations in the vaginal microbiota composition in the first weeks after parturition remain poorly documented.

Results

In this study, bacteria isolated from the vagina of healthy pregnant, and infected postpartum cows were characterised by random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis and partial 16S ribosomal RNA (rDNA) gene sequencing. Populations of bacilli and lactic acid bacteria of the genera Enterococcus, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus were present in both healthy and infected cows. Infected cows had a significant increase in the vaginal enteric bacteria population which consisted mainly of Escherichia coli. Three E. coli isolates harboured the gene coding for Shiga-like-toxin (SLT) I or II. Several isolates of the Pediococcus acidilactici were found to produce the bacteriocin pediocin AcH/PA-1. Quantitative PCR analyses of vaginal mucus samples collected from ten metritic cows before and after parturition confirmed the presence of the Lactobacillus group (Lactobacillus spp., Pediococcus spp., Leuconostoc spp., and Weissella spp.); Enterobacteriaceae, E. coli, and bacilli. The presence of the pediocin AcH/PA-1 structural gene and SLT genes were also confirmed with qPCR.

Conclusions

In conclusion, overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, particularly E. coli, after parturition likely contributes to the development of metritis. Our microbiota analysis extends the information related to the composition of commensal bacteria in the bovine female reproductive tract and may facilitate the development of novel intervention strategies for prevention of uterine infections in dairy cows.

Keywords:
Lactic acid bacteria; Dairy cow; Metritis; Pediocin PA-1/AcH; Shiga-like toxin