Ascaris suum infection was associated with a worm-independent reduction in microbial diversity and altered metabolic potential in the porcine gut microbiome.


United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Animal Parasitic Disease Laboratory, Beltsville, MD, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


The effect of infection of pigs with Ascaris suum on the microbial composition in the proximal colon and fecal matter was investigated using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The infection significantly decreased various microbial diversity indices including Chao1 richness, but the effect on Chao1 in the colon luminal contents was worm burden-independent. The abundance of 49 genera present in colon contents, such as Prevotella and Faecalibacterium, and 179 operational taxonomic units was significantly changed as a result of infection. Notably, infection was also associated with a significant shift in the metabolic potential of the proximal colon microbiome, where the relative abundance of at least 30 metabolic pathways including carbohydrate metabolism and amino acid metabolism was reduced, while the abundance of 28 pathways was increased by infection. Furthermore, the microbial co-occurrence network in infected pigs was highly modular. Two of 52 modules or subnetworks were negatively correlated with fecal butyrate concentrations (r < -0.7; P < 0.05) while one module with 18 members was negatively correlated with fecal acetate, propionate and total short-chain fatty acids. A partial Mantel test identified a strong positive correlation between node connectivity of the operational taxonomic units assigned to β-Proteobacteria (especially the family Alcaligenaceae) and fecal acetate and propionate levels (r = 0.82 and 0.74, respectively), while that of the family Porphyromonadaceae was positively correlated with fecal egg counts. Overall, Ascaris infection was associated with a profound change in the gut microbiome, especially in the proximity of the initial site of larval infection, and should facilitate our understanding of the pathophysiological consequence of gastrointestinal nematode infections.


16S rRNA gene,Ascaris suum,Infection,Microbiome,Network,Swine,

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