Bacterial community analysis of purulent material from liver abscesses of crossbred cattle and Holstein steers fed finishing diets with or without tylosin

Raghavendra G. Amachawadi, Wesley A. Tom, Michael P. Hays, Samodha C. Fernando, Philip R. Hardwidge, T. G. Nagaraja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Liver abscesses in feedlot cattle are polymicrobial infections. Culture-based studies have identified Fusobacterium necrophorum as the primary causative agent, but a number of other bacterial species are frequently isolated. The incidence of liver abscesses is highly variable and is affected by a number of factors, including cattle type. Holstein steers raised for beef production have a higher incidence than crossbred feedlot cattle. Tylosin is the commonly used antimicrobial feed additive to reduce the incidence of liver abscesses. The objective of this study was to utilize 16S ribosomal RNA amplicon sequence analyses to analyze the bacterial community composition of purulent material of liver abscesses of crossbred cattle (n = 24) and Holstein steers (n = 24), each fed finishing diet with or without tylosin. DNA was extracted and the V3 and V4 regions of the 16S rRNA gene were amplified, sequenced, and analyzed. The minimum, mean, and maximum sequence reads per sample were 996, 177,070, and 877,770, respectively, across all the liver abscess samples. Sequence analyses identified 5 phyla, 14 families, 98 genera, and 102 amplicon sequence variants (ASV) in the 4 treatment groups. The dominant phyla identified were Fusobacteria (52% of total reads) and Proteobacteria (33%). Of the top 25 genera identified, 17 genera were Gram negative and 8 were Gram positive. The top 3 genera, which accounted for 75% of the total reads, in the order of abundance, were Fusobacterium, Pseudomonas, and Bacteroides. The relative abundance, expressed as percent of total reads, of phyla, family, and genera did not differ (P > 0.05) between the 4 treatment groups. Generic richness and evenness, determined by Shannon-Weiner and Simpson's diversity indices, respectively, did not differ between the groups. The UniFrac distance matrices data revealed no clustering of the ASV indicating variance between the samples within each treatment group. Co-occurrence network analysis at the genus level indicated a strong association of Fusobacterium with 15 other genera, and not all of them have been previously isolated from liver abscesses. In conclusion, the culture-independent method identified the bacterial composition of liver abscesses as predominantly Gram negative and Fusobacterium as the dominant genus, followed by Pseudomonas. The bacterial community composition did not differ between crossbred and Holstein steers fed finishing diets with or without tylosin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskab076
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • 16S ribosomal RNA
  • Holsteins
  • bacteriome
  • crossbred cattle
  • liver abscesses
  • tylosin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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