Post-weaning diarrhea (PWD) caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is an economically important disease in weaned piglets. Currently, antibiotics are used in the swine industry to control enteric infections, including PWD in piglets. Recent studies have confirmed that disruption of the gut microbiome (gut dysbiosis) induced during weaning transition is a critical factor involved in PWD pathogenesis. Gut dysbiosis has been found to be invariably implicated in both initiation and clinical manifestation of PWD. Therefore, stabilizing the gut microbiome during the weaning transition could be an effective strategy for controlling PWD. Recently, fecal microbiome transplantation (FMT) has been shown to prevent gut-dysbiosis and control serious enteric diseases in humans. However, the application of these strategies is minimally explored in the swine industry. This proposal investigated the use of FMT as a preventive strategy against gut- dysbiosis and ETEC infection in weaning piglets. In this project, we tested our central hypothesis that gut microbiome dysbiosis and PWD in piglets could be ameliorated by the transplantation of adult pig gut microbiota to the piglets at weaning. The results from our experiment indicated that FMT could beneficially alter the abundance of specific bacterial communities in piglet gut, increase the diversity of the gut microbiome, and reduce the clinical outcome of ETEC infection in weaning piglets.

Key Findings:

  • FMT reduced the severity of diarrhea in ETEC infected piglets
  • FMT increased gut microbiome diversity in weaning piglets
  • FMT induced a favorable shift in the gut microbial abundance