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Effects of treatment with enrofloxacin or tulathromycin on fecal microbiota composition and genetic function of dairy calves


The increasing concerns with antimicrobial resistance highlights the need for studies evaluating the impacts of antimicrobial use in livestock on antimicrobial resistance using new sequencing technologies. Through shotgun sequencing, we investigated the changes in the fecal microbiome composition and function, with a focus on functions related to antimicrobial resistance, of dairy calves. Heifers 2 to 3 weeks old, which were not treated with antibiotics by the farm before enrollment, were randomly allocated to one of three study groups: control (no treatment), a single treatment of enrofloxacin, or a single treatment of tulathromycin. Fecal samples were collected at days 4, 14, 56 and 112 days after enrollment, and DNA extraction and sequencing was conducted. The effect of antibiotic treatment on each taxon and genetic functional level by time (including Day 0 as a covariate) revealed few changes in the microbiota. At the genus level, enrofloxacin group had higher relative abundance of Blautia, Coprococcus and Desulfovibrio and lower abundance of Bacteroides when compared to other study groups. The SEED database was used for genetic functional analyses, which showed that calves in the enrofloxacin group started with a higher relative abundance of "Resistance to antibiotics and toxic compounds" function on Day 0, however an increase in antibiotic resistance genes after treatment with enrofloxacin was not observed. "Resistance to Fluoroquinolones" and "Erythromycin resistance", of relevance given the study groups, were not statistically different in relative abundance between study groups. "Resistance to fluoroquinolones" increased during the study period regardless of study group. Despite small differences over the first weeks between study groups, at Day 112 the microbiota composition and genetic functional profile was similar among all study groups. In our study, enrofloxacin or tulathromycin had minimal impacts on the microbial composition and genetic functional microbiota of calves over the study period.

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