Now showing items 21-40 of 261

• #### Bile acids at the cross-roads of gut microbiome–host cardiometabolic interactions

While basic and clinical research over the last several decades has recognized a number of modifiable risk factors associated with cardiometabolic disease progression, additional and alternative biological perspectives may offer novel targets for prevention and treatment of this disease set. There is mounting preclinical and emerging clinical evidence indicating that the mass of metabolically diverse microorganisms which inhabit the human gastrointestinal tract may be implicated in initiation and modulation of cardiovascular and metabolic disease outcomes. The following review will discuss this gut microbiome–host metabolism axis and address newly proposed bile-mediated signaling pathways through which dysregulation of this homeostatic axis may influence host cardiovascular risk. With a central focus on the major nuclear and membrane-bound bile acid receptor ligands, we aim to review the putative impact of microbial bile acid modification on several major phenotypes of metabolic syndrome, from obesity to heart failure. Finally, attempting to synthesize several separate but complementary hypotheses, we will review current directions in preclinical and clinical investigation in this evolving field.
• #### A bio-economic simulation study on the association between key performance indicators and pluck lesions in Irish farrow-to-finish pig farms

Background Pluck lesions are associated with decreased performance in grower-finisher pigs, but their economic impact needs to be further investigated. This study aimed to identify the main pluck lesions and the cut-off value for their prevalence, associated with changes in average daily gain (ADG) during the wean-to-finish period, to simulate their effects on economic performance of farrow-to-finish farms. Pigs (n = 162 ± 51.9 per farm) from 56 farrow-to-finish farms were inspected at slaughter and the prevalence of enzootic pneumonia-like lesions, pleurisy, lung scars, abscesses, pericarditis, and liver milk spots was estimated. For each farm, annual performance indicators were obtained. Regression trees analysis (RTA) was used to identify pluck lesions and to estimate cut-off values for their prevalence associated with changes in ADG. Different scenarios were simulated as per RTA results and economic and risk analyses were performed using the Teagasc Pig Production Model. Risk analysis was performed by Monte Carlo sampling using the Microsoft Excel add-in @Risk with 10,000 iterations. Results Pleurisy and lung scars were the main lesions associated with changes in ADG. Three scenarios were simulated based on RTA results: a 728 sow farrow-to-finish farm with prevalence of i) pleurisy < 25% and lung scars < 8% (LPLSC; ADG = 760 g); ii) pleurisy < 25% and lung scar ≥8% (LPHSC; ADG = 725 g) and iii) pleurisy ≥25% (HP; ADG = 671 g). The economic analysis showed increased feed and dead animals for disposal costs, and lower sales in the HP and LPHSC scenarios than in the LPLSC scenario; thereby reducing gross margin and net profit. Results from the risk analysis showed lower probability of reaching any given level of profit in the HP scenario compared with the LPHSC and LPLSC scenarios. Conclusion Under the conditions of this study, higher prevalence of pleurisy and lung scars were associated with decreased ADG during the grower-finisher period and with lower economic return in the simulated farms. These results highlight the economic benefits and importance of preventing and/or controlling respiratory disease.
• #### Birth delivery method affects expression of immune genes in lung and jejunum tissue of neonatal beef calves

Background Caesarean section is a routine veterinary obstetrical procedure employed to alleviate dystocia in cattle. However, CS, particularly before the onset of labour, is known to negatively affect neonatal respiration and metabolic adaptation in humans, though there is little published information for cattle. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of elective caesarean section (ECS) or normal trans-vaginal (TV) delivery, on lung and jejunal gene expression profiles of neonatal calves. Results Paternal half-sib Angus calves (gestation length 278 + 1.8 d) were delivered either transvaginally (TV; n = 8) or by elective caesarean section (ECS; n = 9) and immediately euthanized. Lung and jejunum epithelial tissue was isolated and snap frozen. Total RNA was extracted using Trizol reagent and reverse transcribed to generate cDNA. For lung tissue, primers were designed to target genes involved in immunity, surfactant production, cellular detoxification, membrane transport and mucin production. Primers for jejunum tissue were chosen to target mucin production, immunoglobulin uptake, cortisol reaction and membrane trafficking. Quantitative real-time PCR reactions were performed and data were statistically analysed using mixed models ANOVA. In lung tissue the expression of five genes were affected (p < 0.05) by delivery method. Four of these genes were present at lower (LAP, CYP1A1, SCN11α and SCN11β) and one (MUC5AC) at higher abundance in ECS compared with TV calves. In jejunal tissue, expression of TNFα, Il-1β and 1 l-6 was higher in ECS compared with TV calves. Conclusions This novel study shows that ECS delivery affects the expression of key genes involved in the efficiency of the pulmonary liquid to air transition at birth, and may lead to an increased inflammatory response in jejunal tissue, which could compromise colostral immunoglobulin absorption. These findings are important to our understanding of the viability and management of neonatal calves born through ECS.
• #### Bovine milk somatic cell transcriptomic response to Staphylococcus aureus is dependent on strain genotype

Background Mastitis is an economically important disease of dairy cows with Staphylococcus aureus a major cause worldwide. Challenge of Holstein-Friesian cows demonstrated that S. aureus strain MOK124, which belongs to Clonal Complex (CC)151, caused clinical mastitis, while strain MOK023, belonging to CC97, caused mild or subclinical mastitis. The aim of this study was to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of the host immune response utilising a transcriptomic approach. Milk somatic cells were collected from cows infected with either S. aureus MOK023 or MOK124 at 0, 24, 48, 72 and 168 h post-infection (hpi) and analysed for differentially expressed (DE) genes in response to each strain. Results In response to MOK023, 1278, 2278, 1986 and 1750 DE genes were found at 24, 48, 72 and 168 hpi, respectively, while 2293, 1979, 1428 and 1544 DE genes were found in response to MOK124 at those time points. Genes involved in milk production (CSN1, CSN10, CSN1S2, CSN2, a-LACTA and PRLR) were downregulated in response to both strains, with a more pronounced decrease in the MOK124 group. Immune response pathways such as NF-κB and TNF signalling were overrepresented in response to both strains at 24 hpi. These immune pathways continued to be overrepresented in the MOK023 group at 48 and 72 hpi, while the Hippo signalling, extracellular matrix interaction (ECM) and tight junction pathways were overrepresented in the MOK124 group between 48 and 168 hpi. Cellular composition analysis demonstrated that a neutrophil response was predominant in response to MOK124, while M1 macrophages were the main milk cell type post-infection in the MOK023 group. Conclusions A switch from immune response pathways to pathways involved in maintaining the integrity of the epithelial cell layer was observed in the MOK124 group from 48 hpi, which coincided with the occurrence of clinical signs in the infected animals. The higher proportion of M1 macrophages in the MOK023 group and lack of substantial neutrophil recruitment in response to MOK023 may indicate immune evasion by this strain. The results of this study highlight that the somatic cell transcriptomic response to S. aureus is dependent on the genotype of the infecting strain.
• #### Bovine proteins containing poly-glutamine repeats are often polymorphic and enriched for components of transcriptional regulatory complexes

Background: About forty human diseases are caused by repeat instability mutations. A distinct subset of these diseases is the result of extreme expansions of polymorphic trinucleotide repeats; typically CAG repeats encoding poly-glutamine (poly-Q) tracts in proteins. Polymorphic repeat length variation is also apparent in human poly-Q encoding genes from normal individuals. As these coding sequence repeats are subject to selection in mammals, it has been suggested that normal variations in some of these typically highly conserved genes are implicated in morphological differences between species and phenotypic variations within species. At present, poly-Q encoding genes in non-human mammalian species are poorly documented, as are their functions and propensities for polymorphic variation. Results: The current investigation identified 178 bovine poly-Q encoding genes (Q ≥ 5) and within this group, 26 genes with orthologs in both human and mouse that did not contain poly-Q repeats. The bovine poly-Q encoding genes typically had ubiquitous expression patterns although there was bias towards expression in epithelia, brain and testes. They were also characterised by unusually large sizes. Analysis of gene ontology terms revealed that the encoded proteins were strongly enriched for functions associated with transcriptional regulation and many contributed to physical interaction networks in the nucleus where they presumably act cooperatively in transcriptional regulatory complexes. In addition, the coding sequence CAG repeats in some bovine genes impacted mRNA splicing thereby generating unusual transcriptional diversity, which in at least one instance was tissue-specific. The poly-Q encoding genes were prioritised using multiple criteria for their likelihood of being polymorphic and then the highest ranking group was experimentally tested for polymorphic variation within a cattle diversity panel. Extensive and meiotically stable variation was identified. Conclusions: Transcriptional diversity can potentially be generated in poly-Q encoding genes by the impact of CAG repeat tracts on mRNA alternative splicing. This effect, combined with the physical interactions of the encoded proteins in large transcriptional regulatory complexes suggests that polymorphic variations of proteins in these complexes have strong potential to affect phenotype.
• #### C:N:P stoichiometry and nutrient limitation of the soil microbial biomass in a grazed grassland site under experimental P limitation or excess

Introduction: The availability of essential nutrients, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), can feedback on soil carbon (C) and the soil microbial biomass. Natural cycles can be supplemented by agricultural fertiliser addition, and we determined whether the stoichiometry and nutrient limitation of the microbial biomass could be affected by an unbalanced nutrient supply. Methods: Samples were taken from a long-term trial (in effect since 1968) with annual applications of 0, 15 and 30 kg P ha−1 with constant N and potassium. Soil and microbial biomass CNP contents were measured and nutrient limitation assessed by substrate-induced respiration. Linear regression and discriminant analyses were used to identify the variables explaining nutrient limitation. Results: Soil and biomass CNP increased with increasing P fertiliser, and there was a significant, positive, correlation between microbial biomass P and biomass C, apart from at the highest level of P fertilisation when the microbial biomass was over-saturated with P. The molar ratios of C:N:P in the microbial biomass remained constant (homeostatic) despite large changes in the soil nutrient ratios. Microbial growth was generally limited by C and N, except in soil with no added P when C and P were the main limiting nutrients. C, N and P, however, did not explain all the growth limitation on the soils with no added P. Conclusions: Increased soil C and N were probably due to increased net primary production. Our results confirm that C:N:P ratios within the microbial biomass were constrained (i.e. homeostatic) under near optimum soil conditions. Soils with no added P were characterised by strong microbial P limitation and soils under high P by over-saturation of microorganisms with P. Relative changes in biomass C:P can be indicative of nutrient limitation within a site.
• #### Calf health from birth to weaning. I. General aspects of disease prevention

Calfhood diseases have a major impact on the economic viability of cattle operations. This is the first in a three part review series on calf health from birth to weaning, focusing on preventive measures. The review considers both pre- and periparturient management factors influencing calf health, colostrum management in beef and dairy calves and further nutrition and weaning in dairy calves.
• #### Calf health from birth to weaning. III. Housing and management of calf pneumonia

Calfhood diseases have a major impact on the economic viability of cattle operations. A three part review series has been developed focusing on calf health from birth to weaning. In this paper, the last of the three part series, we review disease prevention and management with particular reference to pneumonia, focusing primarily on the pre-weaned calf. Pneumonia in recently weaned suckler calves is also considered, where the key risk factors are related to the time of weaning. Weaning of the suckler calf is often combined with additional stressors including a change in nutrition, environmental change, transport and painful husbandry procedures (castration, dehorning). The reduction of the cumulative effects of these multiple stressors around the time of weaning together with vaccination programmes (preconditioning) can reduce subsequent morbidity and mortality in the feedlot. In most studies, calves housed individually and calves housed outdoors with shelter, are associated with decreased risk of disease. Even though it poses greater management challenges, successful group housing of calves is possible. Special emphasis should be given to equal age groups and to keeping groups stable once they are formed. The management of pneumonia in calves is reliant on a sound understanding of aetiology, relevant risk factors, and of effective approaches to diagnosis and treatment. Early signs of pneumonia include increased respiratory rate and fever, followed by depression. The single most important factor determining the success of therapy in calves with pneumonia is early onset of treatment, and subsequent adequate duration of treatment. The efficacy and economical viability of vaccination against respiratory disease in calves remains unclear.
• #### Carbohydrate catabolic flexibility in the mammalian intestinal commensal Lactobacillus ruminis revealed by fermentation studies aligned to genome annotations

Background: Lactobacillus ruminis is a poorly characterized member of the Lactobacillus salivarius clade that is part of the intestinal microbiota of pigs, humans and other mammals. Its variable abundance in human and animals may be linked to historical changes over time and geographical differences in dietary intake of complex carbohydrates. Results: In this study, we investigated the ability of nine L. ruminis strains of human and bovine origin to utilize fifty carbohydrates including simple sugars, oligosaccharides, and prebiotic polysaccharides. The growth patterns were compared with metabolic pathways predicted by annotation of a high quality draft genome sequence of ATCC 25644 (human isolate) and the complete genome of ATCC 27782 (bovine isolate). All of the strains tested utilized prebiotics including fructooligosaccharides (FOS), soybean-oligosaccharides (SOS) and 1,3:1,4-β-D-gluco-oligosaccharides to varying degrees. Six strains isolated from humans utilized FOS-enriched inulin, as well as FOS. In contrast, three strains isolated from cows grew poorly in FOS-supplemented medium. In general, carbohydrate utilisation patterns were strain-dependent and also varied depending on the degree of polymerisation or complexity of structure. Six putative operons were identified in the genome of the human isolate ATCC 25644 for the transport and utilisation of the prebiotics FOS, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), SOS, and 1,3:1,4-β-D-Gluco-oligosaccharides. One of these comprised a novel FOS utilisation operon with predicted capacity to degrade chicory-derived FOS. However, only three of these operons were identified in the ATCC 27782 genome that might account for the utilisation of only SOS and 1,3:1,4-β-D-Gluco-oligosaccharides. Conclusions: This study has provided definitive genome-based evidence to support the fermentation patterns of nine strains of Lactobacillus ruminis, and has linked it to gene distribution patterns in strains from different sources. Furthermore, the study has identified prebiotic carbohydrates with the potential to promote L. ruminis growth in vivo.
• #### A case of bovine raw milk contamination with Listeria monocytogenes

During routine sampling of bulk raw milk on a dairy farm, the pathogenic bacteria Listeria monocytogenes was found to be a contaminant, at numbers < 100 cfu/ml. A strain with an indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern was isolated from the bulk milk two months later. Environmental swabs taken at the dairy environment were negative for the presence of L. monocytogenes, indicating a possible case of excretion of the L. monocytogenes directly into the milk. Milk samples were collected from the individual cows and analysed, resulting in the identification of L. monocytogenes excretion (at 280 cfu/ml) from one of the 4 mammary quarters of one dairy cow out of 180. When the infected cow was isolated from the herd, no L. monocytogenes was detected from the remaining herd. The pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern of the strain from the individual cow was indistinguishable from that originally isolated from the bulk milk. The infected cow did not show any clinical signs of disease, nor did the appearance of the milk have any physical abnormalities. Antibiotic treatment of the infected mammary quarter was found to be ineffective. This study shows that there can be risks associated with direct contamination of raw milk with L. monocytogenes.
• #### Catabolic flexibility of mammalian-associated lactobacilli

Metabolic flexibility may be generally defined as “the capacity for the organism to adapt fuel oxidation to fuel availability”. The metabolic diversification strategies used by individual bacteria vary greatly from the use of novel or acquired enzymes to the use of plasmid-localised genes and transporters. In this review, we describe the ability of lactobacilli to utilise a variety of carbon sources from their current or new environments in order to grow and survive. The genus Lactobacillus now includes more than 150 species, many with adaptive capabilities, broad metabolic capacity and species/strain variance. They are therefore, an informative example of a cell factory capable of adapting to new niches with differing nutritional landscapes. Indeed, lactobacilli naturally colonise and grow in a wide variety of environmental niches which include the roots and foliage of plants, silage, various fermented foods and beverages, the human vagina and the mammalian gastrointestinal tract (GIT; including the mouth, stomach, small intestine and large intestine). Here we primarily describe the metabolic flexibility of some lactobacilli isolated from the mammalian gastrointestinal tract, and we also describe some of the food-associated species with a proven ability to adapt to the GIT. As examples this review concentrates on the following species - Lb. plantarum, Lb. acidophilus, Lb. ruminis, Lb. salivarius, Lb. reuteri and Lb. sakei, to highlight the diversity and inter-relationships between the catabolic nature of species within the genus.
• #### Characterisation and expression profile of the bovine cathelicidin gene repertoire in mammary tissue

Abstract Background Cathelicidins comprise a major group of host-defence peptides. Conserved across a wide range of species, they have several functions related to host defence. Only one cathelicidin has been found in humans but several cathelicidin genes occur in the bovine genome. We propose that these molecules may have a protective role against mastitis. The aim of this study was to characterise the cathelicidin gene-cluster in the bovine genome and to identify sites of expression in the bovine mammary gland. Results Bioinformatic analysis of the bovine genome (BosTau7) revealed seven protein-coding cathelicidin genes, CATHL1-7, including two identical copies of CATHL4, as well as three additional putative cathelicidin genes, all clustered on the long arm of chromosome 22. Six of the seven protein-coding genes were expressed in leukocytes extracted from milk of high somatic cell count (SCC) cows. CATHL5 was expressed across several sites in the mammary gland, but did not increase in response to Staphylococcus aureus infection. Conclusions Here, we characterise the bovine cathelicidin gene cluster and reconcile inconsistencies in the datasets of previous studies. Constitutive cathelicidin expression in the mammary gland suggests a possible role for these host defence peptides its protection. Background Cathelicidins comprise a major group of host-defence peptides. Conserved across a wide range of species, they have several functions related to host defence. Only one cathelicidin has been found in humans but several cathelicidin genes occur in the bovine genome. We propose that these molecules may have a protective role against mastitis. The aim of this study was to characterise the cathelicidin gene-cluster in the bovine genome and to identify sites of expression in the bovine mammary gland. Results Bioinformatic analysis of the bovine genome (BosTau7) revealed seven protein-coding cathelicidin genes, CATHL1-7, including two identical copies of CATHL4, as well as three additional putative cathelicidin genes, all clustered on the long arm of chromosome 22. Six of the seven protein-coding genes were expressed in leukocytes extracted from milk of high somatic cell count (SCC) cows. CATHL5 was expressed across several sites in the mammary gland, but did not increase in response to Staphylococcus aureus infection. Conclusions Here, we characterise the bovine cathelicidin gene cluster and reconcile inconsistencies in the datasets of previous studies. Constitutive cathelicidin expression in the mammary gland suggests a possible role for these host defence peptides its protection.
• #### Characterisation of physiological and immunological responses in beef cows to abrupt weaning and subsequent housing

Background: Weaning involves the permanent separation of the calf from the dam and has been shown to be stressful for both. The objectives of this study were to characterise the effect of i) abrupt weaning and ii) subsequent housing on the extended physiological and immunological responses of beef cows. At weaning (day (d) 0, mean age of calf (s.d.) 212 (24.5) d), cows were abruptly separated from their calves and returned to the grazing area. After 35 d at pasture, cows were housed in a slatted floor shed and offered grass silage ad libitum plus a mineral-vitamin supplement daily. Rectal body temperature was recorded and blood samples were obtained on i) d 0 (weaning), 2, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 and subsequently on ii) d 0 (housing), 2, 7, 14 and 21 for physiological, haematological and immunological measurements. Results: Post-weaning, concentration of cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone were unchanged (P > 0.05). Rectal body temperature, neutrophil number and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio increased (P < 0.01) on d 2 compared with pre-weaning baseline. Lymphocyte and neutrophil number decreased (P < 0.05) on d 2 to 7 and d 7 to 21, respectively, compared with pre-weaning baseline. Interferon-γ production decreased (P < 0.05) on d 2 compared with pre-weaning baseline. An increase (P < 0.05) in acute phase proteins, fibrinogen and haptoglobin was evident on d 2 to 35 compared with pre-weaning baseline. Concentration of glucose increased on d 2 to 28, whereas non-esterified fatty acid decreased on d 2 to 35 compared with pre-weaning baseline. Post-housing, concentrations of cortisol, rectal body temperature, total leukocyte number, and glucose were unchanged (P > 0.05). On d 2 post-housing, neutrophil number and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio increased (P < 0.05), whereas lymphocyte number and concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone, fibrinogen and non-esterified fatty acid decreased (P < 0.05) compared with pre-housing baseline. Concentration of haptoglobin increased (P < 0.05) on d 14 to 21 post-housing. Conclusions: A transitory increase in neutrophil number and decrease in lymphocyte number, increased neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio coupled with decreased interferon-γ production, and increased concentration of acute phase proteins indicate a stress response in cows post-weaning, whereas post-housing, changes were less marked.
• #### Characterization and adaptation of Caldicellulosiruptor strains to higher sugar concentrations, targeting enhanced hydrogen production from lignocellulosic hydrolysates

Abstract Background The members of the genus Caldicellulosiruptor have the potential for future integration into a biorefinery system due to their capacity to generate hydrogen close to the theoretical limit of 4 mol H2/mol hexose, use a wide range of sugars and can grow on numerous lignocellulose hydrolysates. However, members of this genus are unable to survive in high sugar concentrations, limiting their ability to grow on more concentrated hydrolysates, thus impeding their industrial applicability. In this study five members of this genus, C. owensensis, C. kronotskyensis, C. bescii, C. acetigenus and C. kristjanssonii, were developed to tolerate higher sugar concentrations through an adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE) process. The developed mixed population C. owensensis CO80 was further studied and accompanied by the development of a kinetic model based on Monod kinetics to quantitatively compare it with the parental strain. Results Mixed populations of Caldicellulosiruptor tolerant to higher glucose concentrations were obtained with C. owensensis adapted to grow up to 80 g/L glucose; other strains in particular C. kristjanssonii demonstrated a greater restriction to adaptation. The C. owensensis CO80 mixed population was further studied and demonstrated the ability to grow in glucose concentrations up to 80 g/L glucose, but with reduced volumetric hydrogen productivities ( $$Q_{{{\text{H}}_{2} }}$$ Q H 2 ) and incomplete sugar conversion at elevated glucose concentrations. In addition, the carbon yield decreased with elevated concentrations of glucose. The ability of the mixed population C. owensensis CO80 to grow in high glucose concentrations was further described with a kinetic growth model, which revealed that the critical sugar concentration of the cells increased fourfold when cultivated at higher concentrations. When co-cultured with the adapted C. saccharolyticus G5 mixed culture at a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 20 h, C. owensensis constituted only 0.09–1.58% of the population in suspension. Conclusions The adaptation of members of the Caldicellulosiruptor genus to higher sugar concentrations established that the ability to develop improved strains via ALE is species dependent, with C. owensensis adapted to grow on 80 g/L, whereas C. kristjanssonii could only be adapted to 30 g/L glucose. Although C. owensensis CO80 was adapted to a higher sugar concentration, this mixed population demonstrated reduced $$Q_{{{\text{H}}_{2} }}$$ Q H 2 with elevated glucose concentrations. This would indicate that while ALE permits adaptation to elevated sugar concentrations, this approach does not result in improved fermentation performances at these higher sugar concentrations. Moreover, the observation that planktonic mixed culture of CO80 was outcompeted by an adapted C. saccharolyticus, when co-cultivated in continuous mode, indicates that the robustness of CO80 mixed culture should be improved for industrial application.
• #### Characterization of the bovine salivary gland transcriptome associated with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis experimental challenge

Background Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP), the etiologic agent of Johne’s disease is spread between cattle via the fecal-oral route, yet the functional changes in the salivary gland associated with infection remain uncharacterized. In this study, we hypothesized that experimental challenge with MAP would induce stable changes in gene expression patterns in the salivary gland that may shed light on the mucosal immune response as well as the regional variation in immune capacity of this extensive gland. Holstein-Friesian cattle were euthanized 33 months’ post oral challenge with MAP strain CIT003 and both the parotid and mandibular salivary glands were collected from healthy control (n = 5) and MAP exposed cattle (n = 5) for histopathological and transcriptomic analysis. Results A total of 205, 21, 61, and 135 genes were significantly differentially expressed between control and MAP exposed cattle in dorsal mandibular (M1), ventral mandibular (M2), dorsal parotid (P1) and ventral parotid salivary glands (P2), respectively. Expression profiles varied between the structurally divergent parotid and mandibular gland sections which was also reflected in the enriched biological pathways identified. Changes in gene expression associated with MAP exposure were detected with significantly elevated expression of BoLA DR-ALPHA, BOLA-DRB3 and complement factors in MAP exposed cattle. In contrast, reduced expression of genes such as polymeric immunoglobin receptor (PIGR), TNFSF13, and the antimicrobial genes lactoferrin (LF) and lactoperoxidase (LPO) was detected in MAP exposed animals. Conclusions This first analysis of the transcriptomic profile of salivary glands in cattle adds an important layer to our understanding of salivary gland immune function. Transcriptomic changes associated with MAP exposure have been identified including reduced LF and LPO. These critical antimicrobial and immunoregulatory proteins are known to be secreted into saliva and their downregulation may contribute to disease susceptibility. Future work will focus on the validation of their expression levels in saliva from additional cattle of known infection status as a potential strategy to augment disease diagnosis.
• #### Choice of assembly software has a critical impact on virome characterisation

Background The viral component of microbial communities plays a vital role in driving bacterial diversity, facilitating nutrient turnover and shaping community composition. Despite their importance, the vast majority of viral sequences are poorly annotated and share little or no homology to reference databases. As a result, investigation of the viral metagenome (virome) relies heavily on de novo assembly of short sequencing reads to recover compositional and functional information. Metagenomic assembly is particularly challenging for virome data, often resulting in fragmented assemblies and poor recovery of viral community members. Despite the essential role of assembly in virome analysis and difficulties posed by these data, current assembly comparisons have been limited to subsections of virome studies or bacterial datasets. Design This study presents the most comprehensive virome assembly comparison to date, featuring 16 metagenomic assembly approaches which have featured in human virome studies. Assemblers were assessed using four independent virome datasets, namely, simulated reads, two mock communities, viromes spiked with a known phage and human gut viromes. Results Assembly performance varied significantly across all test datasets, with SPAdes (meta) performing consistently well. Performance of MIRA and VICUNA varied, highlighting the importance of using a range of datasets when comparing assembly programs. It was also found that while some assemblers addressed the challenges of virome data better than others, all assemblers had limitations. Low read coverage and genomic repeats resulted in assemblies with poor genome recovery, high degrees of fragmentation and low-accuracy contigs across all assemblers. These limitations must be considered when setting thresholds for downstream analysis and when drawing conclusions from virome data.
• #### Comparative analysis of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii genomes shows a high level of genome plasticity and warrants separation into new species-level taxa

Background Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is a ubiquitous member of the human gut microbiome, constituting up to 15% of the total bacteria in the human gut. Substantial evidence connects decreased levels of F. prausnitzii with the onset and progression of certain forms of inflammatory bowel disease, which has been attributed to its anti-inflammatory potential. Two phylogroups of F. prausnitzii have been identified, with a decrease in phylogroup I being a more sensitive marker of intestinal inflammation. Much of the genomic and physiological data available to date was collected using phylogroup II strains. Little analysis of F. prausnitzii genomes has been performed so far and genetic differences between phylogroups I and II are poorly understood. Results In this study we sequenced 11 additional F. prausnitzii genomes and performed comparative genomics to investigate intraspecies diversity, functional gene complement and the mobilome of 31 high-quality draft and complete genomes. We reveal a very low level of average nucleotide identity among F. prausnitzii genomes and a high level of genome plasticity. Two genomogroups can be separated based on differences in functional gene complement, albeit that this division does not fully agree with separation based on conserved gene phylogeny, highlighting the importance of horizontal gene transfer in shaping F. prausnitzii genomes. The difference between the two genomogroups is mainly in the complement of genes associated with catabolism of carbohydrates (such as a predicted sialidase gene in genomogroup I) and amino acids, as well as defense mechanisms. Conclusions Based on the combination of ANI of genomic sequences, phylogenetic analysis of core proteomes and functional differences we propose to separate the species F. prausnitzii into two new species level taxa: F. prausnitzii sensu stricto (neotype strain A2–165T = DSM 17677T = JCM 31915T) and F. moorei sp. nov. (type strain ATCC 27768T = NCIMB 13872T).
• #### Comparative analysis of Lactobacillus gasseri from Chinese subjects reveals a new species-level taxa

Background Lactobacillus gasseri as a probiotic has history of safe consumption is prevalent in infants and adults gut microbiota to maintain gut homeostasis. Results In this study, to explore the genomic diversity and mine potential probiotic characteristics of L. gasseri, 92 strains of L. gasseri were isolated from Chinese human feces and identified based on 16 s rDNA sequencing, after draft genomes sequencing, further average nucleotide identity (ANI) value and phylogenetic analysis reclassified them as L. paragasseri (n = 79) and L. gasseri (n = 13), respectively. Their pan/core-genomes were determined, revealing that L. paragasseri had an open pan-genome. Comparative analysis was carried out to identify genetic features, and the results indicated that 39 strains of L. paragasseri harboured Type II-A CRISPR-Cas system while 12 strains of L. gasseri contained Type I-E and II-A CRISPR-Cas systems. Bacteriocin operons and the number of carbohydrate-active enzymes were significantly different between the two species. Conclusions This is the first time to study pan/core-genome of L. gasseri and L. paragasseri, and compare their genetic diversity, and all the results provided better understating on genetics of the two species.
• #### Comparative and functional genomics of the Lactococcus lactis taxon; insights into evolution and niche adaptation

Background Lactococcus lactis is among the most widely studied lactic acid bacterial species due to its long history of safe use and economic importance to the dairy industry, where it is exploited as a starter culture in cheese production. Results In the current study, we report on the complete sequencing of 16 L. lactis subsp. lactis and L. lactis subsp. cremoris genomes. The chromosomal features of these 16 L. lactis strains in conjunction with 14 completely sequenced, publicly available lactococcal chromosomes were assessed with particular emphasis on discerning the L. lactis subspecies division, evolution and niche adaptation. The deduced pan-genome of L. lactis was found to be closed, indicating that the representative data sets employed for this analysis are sufficient to fully describe the genetic diversity of the taxon. Conclusions Niche adaptation appears to play a significant role in governing the genetic content of each L. lactis subspecies, while (differential) genome decay and redundancy in the dairy niche is also highlighted.
• #### Comparative genomic and metabolic analysis of three Lactobacillus paracasei cheese isolates reveals considerable genomic differences in strains from the same niche

Background Strains of Lactobacillus paracasei are present in many diverse environments, including dairy and plant materials and the intestinal tracts of humans and animals. Their adaptation to various niches is correlated to intra-species diversity at the genomic and metabolic level. In this study, we compared the genome sequences of three L. paracasei strains isolated from mature Cheddar cheeses, two of which (DPC4206 and DPC4536) shared the same genomic fingerprint by PFGE, but demonstrated varying metabolic capabilities. Results Genome sizes varied from 2.9 Mbp for DPC2071, to 3.09 Mbp for DPC4206 and 3.08 Mpb for DPC4536. The presence of plasmids was a distinguishing feature between the strains with strain DPC2071 possessing an unusually high number of plasmids (up to 11), while DPC4206 had one plasmid and DPC4536 harboured no plasmids. Each of the strains possessed specific genes not present in the other two analysed strains. The three strains differed in their abundance of sugar-converting genes, and in the types of sugars that could be used as energy sources. Genes involved in the metabolism of sugars not usually connected with the dairy niche, such as myo-inositol and pullulan were also detected, but strains did not utilise these sugars. The genetic content of the three strains differed in regard to specific genes for arginine and sulfur-containing amino acid metabolism and genes contributing to resistance to heavy metal ions. In addition, variability in the presence of phage remnants and phage protection systems was evident. Conclusions The findings presented in this study confirm a considerable level of heterogeneity of Lactobacillus paracasei strains, even between strains isolated from the same niche.