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Open Access Research article

Evaluation of the nasal microbiota in slaughter-age pigs and the impact on nasal methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriage

J Scott Weese1*, Mackenzie Slifierz1, Mohammad Jalali1 and Robert Friendship2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathobiology and Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G2W1, Canada

2 Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G2W1, Canada

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BMC Veterinary Research 2014, 10:69  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-10-69

Published: 15 March 2014

Abstract

Background

The nasal microbiota of pigs has been poorly assessed but could play a role in carriage of important microorganisms such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The objectives of this study were to describe the nasal microbiota in slaughter age pigs, to evaluate the impact of farm management on the nasal microbiota and to provide a preliminary assessment of the influence of the microbiota on MRSA carriage.

Results

Nasal swabs were collected from five MRSA positive and eight MRSA negative pigs on one farm that used a liquid feeding system and routine tylosin treatment, and seven MRSA negative pigs from an antibiotic-free farm that used conventional feeding. A total of 946310 sequences passed all quality control filters. The number of sequences per sample ranged from 4307 to 165656 (mean 56092, SD 40007). CatchAll analysis of richness predicted a mean of 1749 OTUs (range 213–3736, SD 996). Overall, 6291 OTUs were identified, yet 5125 (81%) were identified less than 10 times and the 12 most abundant OTUs accounted for 80.7% of sequences. Proteobacteria predominated in all but two samples. Liquid-fed/tylosin-exposed pigs had significantly lower relative abundances of Verrucomicrobia (P = 0.004), Fibrobacteres (P = <0.0001) and sequences unclassified at the phylum level (P = 0.028). When comparing only liquid-fed pigs, MRSA carriers had significantly more Bacteroidetes (P = 0.037) than MRSA negative pigs. 124 genera were identified, with Moraxella accounting for 35.4% of sequences. In the Jaccard index tree, five of eight MRSA positive pigs clustered closely together, as did six of the seven conventionally-fed pigs. A significant difference was identified between conventional and liquid-fed pigs using parsimony test with the Jaccard (P < 0.001) but not the Yue&Clayton (P = 0.26) index. There were no significant differences between MRSA positive and negative pigs (P = 0.133 and 0.175). OTUs belonging to Firmicutes were the main indicators of MRSA negative pigs, including Lactobacillus and another Lactobacillaceae and Staphylococcus.

Conclusions

Farm management can influence the nasal microbiota in pigs, but no impact of the microbiota on MRSA carriage was identified. Studies that further define the impact of management on the microbiota, and the impact of the microbiota on pathogen carriage are indicated.

Keywords:
Microbiota; Antimicrobial resistance; Staphylococci