Faecalibacterium diversity in dairy cow milk Academic Article uri icon


  • The bacterial species, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, beneficial to humans and animals and found in mammalian and avian gut, is also occasionally found in dairy cow milk. It is one of the butyrate-producing bacteria of the colon, has anti-inflammatory properties and its abundance in the gut is negatively correlated with obesity in humans. Several strains differing in their functional capability, have been identified. It is important therefore, milk being a potential source of F. prausnitzii as a novel probiotic, to investigate the diversity of this species in bovine milk. Using 16s rRNA gene amplicons we find 292 different dereplicated Faecalibacterium-related amplicons in a herd of 21 dairy cows. The distribution of the 20 most abundant amplicons with >97% identity to a Greengenes OTU varies from cow to cow. Clustering of the 292 pooled sequences from all cows at 99.6% identity finds 4 likely Faecalibacterium phylotypes with >98.5% identity to an F. prausnitzii reference sequence. Sequence alignment and phylogenetic analysis shows these phylotypes are distinct from 34 other species from the Ruminococcaceae family and displaying the sequence clusters as a network illustrates how each cluster is composed of sequences from multiple cows. We conclude there are several phylotypes of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (the only species so far defined for the genus) in this dairy herd with cows being inoculated with a mixture of several strains from a common source. We conclude that not only can Faecalibacterium be detected in dairy cow milk (as noted by others) but that there exist multiple different strains in the milk of a dairy herd. Therefore milk, as an alternative to faeces, offers the opportunity of discovering new strains with potential probiotic application.

publication date

  • 2019