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Comparative microbiome analysis of beef cattle, the feedyard environment, and airborne particulate matter as a function of probiotic and antibiotic use, and change in pen environment

  • Strickland, A. H.1
  • Murray, S. A.2
  • Vinasco, J.2
  • Auvermann, B. W.3
  • Bush, K. J.3
  • Sawyer, J. E.4
  • Scott, H. M.2
  • Norman, K. N.1
  • 1 Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX , (United States)
  • 2 Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX , (United States)
  • 3 Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo, Amarillo, TX , (United States)
  • 4 Department of Animal Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX , (United States)
Published Article
Frontiers in Microbiology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Feb 08, 2024
DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2024.1348171
  • Microbiology
  • Original Research


Introduction Intensive beef cattle production systems are frequently implicated as a source of bacteria that can be transferred to nearby humans and animals via effluent water, manure used as fertilizer, or airborne particulate matter. It is crucial to understand microbial population dynamics due to manure pack desiccation, antibiotic usage, and antibiotic alternatives within beef cattle and their associated feedyard environment. Understanding how bacterial communities change in the presence of antibiotics can also improve management practices for reducing the spread of foodborne bacteria. Methods In this study, we aimed to compare the microbiomes within cattle feces, the feedyard environment and artificially produced airborne particulate matter as a function of pen change and treatment with tylosin or probiotics. We utilized 16S rRNA sequencing to compare bacterial communities among sample types, study days, and treatment groups. Results Bacterial community diversity varied as a function of sampling day and pen change (old or new) within fecal and manure pack samples. Manure pack samples from old pens and new pens contained diverse communities of bacteria on days 0 and 84; however, by day 119 of the study these taxonomic differences were less evident. Particulate matter samples exhibited significant differences in community diversity and predominant bacterial taxa compared to the manure pack they originated from. Treatment with tylosin did not meaningfully impact bacterial communities among fecal, environmental, or particulate matter samples; however, minor differences in bacterial community structure were observed in feces from cattle treated with probiotics. Discussion This study was the first to characterize and compare microbial communities within feces, manure pack, and airborne particulate matter from the same location and as a function of tylosin and probiotic treatment, and pen change. Although fecal and environmental samples are commonly used in research studies and other monitoring programs to infer public health risk of bacteria and antimicrobial resistance determinants from feedyard environments, our study suggests that these samples may not be appropriate to infer public health risk associated with airborne particulate matter.

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