Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Evaluation of the bacterial diversity in the feces of cattle using 16S rDNA bacterial tag-encoded FLX amplicon pyrosequencing (bTEFAP)

Scot E Dowd134*, Todd R Callaway2, Randall D Wolcott3, Yan Sun3, Trevor McKeehan3, Robert G Hagevoort5 and Thomas S Edrington2

Author Affiliations

1 USDA-ARS Livestock Issues Research Unit, Lubbock, TX 79403, USA

2 USDA-ARS, Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, College Station, TX 77845, USA

3 Medical Biofilm Research Institute, Lubbock, TX 79410, USA

4 Research and Testing Laboratory, Lubbock, TX 79410, USA

5 New Mexico State University, Clovis, NM 88101, USA

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BMC Microbiology 2008, 8:125  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-8-125

Published: 24 July 2008



The microbiota of an animal's intestinal tract plays important roles in the animal's overall health, productivity and well-being. There is still a scarcity of information on the microbial diversity in the gut of livestock species such as cattle. The primary reason for this lack of data relates to the expense of methods needed to generate such data. Here we have utilized a bacterial tag-encoded FLX 16s rDNA amplicon pyrosequencing (bTEFAP) approach that is able to perform diversity analyses of gastrointestinal populations. bTEFAP is relatively inexpensive in terms of both time and labor due to the implementation of a novel tag priming method and an efficient bioinformatics pipeline. We have evaluated the microbiome from the feces of 20 commercial, lactating dairy cows.


Ubiquitous bacteria detected from the cattle feces included Clostridium, Bacteroides, Porpyhyromonas, Ruminococcus, Alistipes, Lachnospiraceae, Prevotella, Lachnospira, Enterococcus, Oscillospira, Cytophage, Anaerotruncus, and Acidaminococcus spp. Foodborne pathogenic bacteria were detected in several of the cattle, a total of 4 cows were found to be positive for Salmonella spp (tentative enterica) and 6 cows were positive for Campylobacter spp. (tentative lanienae).


Using bTEFAP we have examined the microbiota in the feces of cattle. As these methods continue to mature we will better understand the ecology of the major populations of bacteria the lower intestinal tract. This in turn will allow for a better understanding of ways in which the intestinal microbiome contributes to animal health, productivity and wellbeing.