The primary aim of this work was to study potential effects of sub-clinical enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) exposure on porcine fecal microbiota composition, with a secondary aim of profiling temporal shifts in bacterial communities over the weaning transition period. 16S rRNA gene metabarcoding and quantitative PCR (qPCR) were used to profile the fecal microbiota and quantify ETEC excretion in the feces, respectively. Temporal shifts in fecal microbiota structure and stability were observed across the immediate post-weaning period (P < 0.05), including significant shifts in the relative levels of specific bacterial phylotypes (P < 0.05). ETEC exposure did not change the fecal microbiota structure (P > 0.05), but significant variations in fecal community structure and stability were linked to variations in ETEC excretion level at particular time points (P < 0.05). In this study, marked temporal changes in microbiota structure and stability were evident over the short weaning transition period, with a relationship between ETEC excretion level and fecal microbiota composition being observed. This study has provided a detailed analysis of fecal microbiota dynamics in the pig, which should help to inform the development of novel management strategies for enteric disorders based on an improved understanding of microbial populations during the challenging post-weaning period.
- 16S rRNA gene
- Weaner pigs