Influence of short-term dietary starch inclusion on the equine cecal microbiome. Academic Article uri icon


  • The objective of this study was to determine bacterial community profiles of the equine cecum in response to abrupt inclusion of varying levels of dietary starch. Seven cecally cannulated Quarter Horse geldings (497 to 580 kg) were used in a crossover design with two 28-d periods and a 28-d washout between each. Horses were randomly assigned to dietary treatments consisting of a commercial concentrate offered as fed at either 0.6 (low starch [LS]) or 1.2% BW (high starch [HS]) daily that was divided into 2 meals at 12-h intervals. Prior to the start of each period, horses were allowed ad libitum access to coastal bermudagrass () hay. Concentrate was fed on d 1 with no adaptation. Cecal fluid was collected on d 1 at h 0 and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 h relative to the initial concentrate meal on d 1. Additional samples were collected 6 h after feeding on d 2, 3, and 7 of each period. Cecal contents were used to determine pH and VFA concentrations and extract microbial DNA. The V4 through V6 region of 16S rRNA gene was amplified using PCR and sequenced on the Roche 454 FLX platform. Sequence analysis was performed with QIIME, and data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure of SAS. Cecal pH tended to decrease ( = 0.09) in horses fed HS in the first 12 h after the first concentrate meal and remained lower ( 0.05) the following 7 d. Total VFA were greater ( 0.05) in horses fed HS in the initial 12 h and 7 d after addition of concentrate. Species richness determined using the Chao1 index was unchanged ( > 0.20) over the initial 12 h and decreased ( = 0.01) over 7 d for both treatments. Community diversity determined using the Shannon index tended to decrease ( = 0.06) over the 7 d. Relative abundances of Paraprevotellaceae were greater ( 0.05) in HS in the first 12 h. Over 7 d, relative abundances of Paraprevotellaceae, Veillonellaceae, and Succinivibrionaceae were greater ( 0.05) in HS compared with LS. Abrupt and short-term exposure to dietary starch does alter cecal fermentation and microbial community structure in horses, but the impact on horse health is unknown.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

altmetric score

  • 9.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Warzecha, C. M., Coverdale, J. A., Janecka, J. E., Leatherwood, J. L., Pinchak, W. E., Wickersham, T. A., & McCann, J. C.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Warzecha, CM||Coverdale, JA||Janecka, JE||Leatherwood, JL||Pinchak, WE||Wickersham, TA||McCann, JC

publication date

  • January 2017