The bovine colostrum microbiome and its association with clinical mastitis

Svetlana F. Lima, Andre G.V. Teixeira, Fabio S. Lima, Erika K. Ganda, Catherine H. Higgins, Georgios Oikonomou, Rodrigo C. Bicalho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


In an effort to characterize colostrum microbial diversity and its potential associations with early-lactation clinical mastitis, we used high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene to investigate the bovine colostrum microbiome. A prospective observational study was conducted that included 70 Holstein cows; colostrum samples were collected from all 4 mammary gland quarters. Colostrum samples were categorized according to whether the quarter was diagnosed (CMC) or not diagnosed (NCMC) with clinical mastitis during the first 30 d postpartum. Colostrum samples were dominated by Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Fusobacteria, and Tenericutes phyla, with the 6 most common taxa [order (o), family (f), and genus (g)] being g_Staphylococcus, g_Prevotella, f_Ruminococcaceae, o_Bacteroidales, o_Clostridiales, and g_Pseudomonas. The colostrum microbiota of primiparous cows was significantly richer (higher number of bacterial species) than that of multiparous cows, and differences in colostrum taxonomic structure between parities were also observed. The microbial community of NCMC samples of primiparous cows was significantly more diverse than that of CMC samples, and the relative abundances of the Tenericutes and Fusobacteria phyla as well as the Mycoplasma and Fusobacterium genera were significantly higher in NCMC than in CMC samples of primiparous cows. The colostrum core microbiome, defined as the bacterial taxa common to all colostrum samples examined, was composed of 20 taxa and included bacterial genera already known to be associated with mastitis (e.g., Staphylococcus, Mycoplasma, and Streptococcus spp.). Our results indicate that the colostrum microbiome of primiparous cows differs from that of multiparous cows, and it harbors some diversity and taxonomic markers of mammary gland health specific to primiparous cows only.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3031-3042
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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