Alterations to the bovine bacterial ocular surface microbiome in the context of infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) is a common cause of morbidity in cattle, resulting in significant economic losses. This study aimed to characterize the bovine bacterial ocular surface microbiome (OSM) through conjunctival swab samples from Normal eyes and eyes with naturally acquired, active IBK across populations of cattle using a three-part approach, including bacterial culture, relative abundance (RA, 16S rRNA gene sequencing), and semi-quantitative random forest modeling (real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)). RESULTS: Conjunctival swab samples were obtained from eyes individually classified as Normal (n=376) or IBK (n=228) based on clinical signs. Cattle unaffected by IBK and the unaffected eye in cattle with contralateral IBK were used to obtain Normal eye samples. Moraxella bovis was cultured from similar proportions of IBK (7/228, 3.07%) and Normal eyes (1/159, 0.63%) (p=0.1481). Moraxella bovoculi was cultured more frequently (p<0.0001) in IBK (59/228, 25.88%) than Normal (7/159, 4.40%) eyes. RA (via 16S rRNA gene sequencing) of Actinobacteriota was significantly higher in Normal eyes (p=0.0045). Corynebacterium variabile and Corynebacterium stationis (Actinobacteriota) were detected at significantly higher RA (p=0.0008, p=0.0025 respectively) in Normal eyes. Rothia nasimurium (Actinobacteriota) was detected at significantly higher RA in IBK eyes (p<0.0001). Alpha-diversity index was not significantly different between IBK and Normal eyes (p>0.05). Alpha-diversity indices for geographic location (p<0.001), age (p<0.0001), sex (p<0.05) and breed (p<0.01) and beta-diversity indices for geographic location (p<0.001), disease status (p<0.01), age (p<0.001), sex (p<0.001) and breed (p<0.001) were significantly different between groups. Modeling of RT-PCR values reliably categorized the microbiome of IBK and Normal eyes; primers for Moraxella bovoculi, Moraxella bovis, and Staphylococcus spp. were consistently the most significant canonical variables in these models. CONCLUSIONS: The results provide further evidence that multiple elements of the bovine bacterial OSM are altered in the context of IBK, indicating the involvement of a variety of bacteria in addition to Moraxella bovis, including Moraxella bovoculi and R. nasimurium, among others. Actinobacteriota RA is altered in IBK, providing possible opportunities for novel therapeutic interventions. While RT-PCR modeling provided limited further support for the involvement of Moraxella bovis in IBK, this was not overtly reflected in culture or RA results. Results also highlight the influence of geographic location and breed type (dairy or beef) on the bovine bacterial OSM. RT-PCR modeling reliably categorized samples as IBK or Normal.

published proceedings

  • Anim Microbiome

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Gafen, H. B., Liu, C., Ineck, N. E., Scully, C. M., Mironovich, M. A., Taylor, C. M., ... Lewin, A. C.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Gafen, Hannah B||Liu, Chin-Chi||Ineck, Nikole E||Scully, Clare M||Mironovich, Melanie A||Taylor, Christopher M||Luo, Meng||Leis, Marina L||Scott, Erin M||Carter, Renee T||Hernke, David M||Paul, Narayan C||Lewin, Andrew C

publication date

  • November 2023