Longitudinal dynamics of the bovine udder microbiota

Anja Ruud Winther*, Judith A. Narvhus, Marit Smistad, Vinicius Da Silva Duarte, Alberto Bombelli, Davide Porcellato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: In recent years, the number of studies concerning microbiota of the intramammary environment has increased rapidly due to the development of high-throughput sequencing technologies that allow mapping of microbiota without culturing. This has revealed that an environment previously thought to be sterile in fact harbours a microbial community. Since this discovery, many studies have investigated the microbiota of different parts of the udder in various conditions. However, few studies have followed the changes that occur in the udder microbiota over time. In this study, the temporal dynamics of the udder microbiota of 10 cows, five with a low somatic cell count (SCC, SCC < 100,000 cells/mL) and five with a high SCC (SCC > 100,000 cells/mL), were followed over 5 months to gather insights into this knowledge gap.
Results: Analysis of the temporal changes in the microbial composition of milk from udders with a low SCC revealed a dynamic and diverse microbiota. When an imbalance due to one dominating genus was recorded, the dominant genus quickly vanished, and the high diversity was restored. The genera dominating in the samples with a high SCC remained the dominant genera throughout the whole sampling period. These cows generally displayed a heightened SCC or an intramammary infection in at least one quarter though-out the sampling period.
Conclusion: Our results show that the bovine udder has a diverse microbiota, and that the composition and diversity of this community affects udder health with regards to SCC. Understanding what influences the composition and stability of this community has important implications for the understanding, control, and treatment of mastitis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number26
JournalAnimal Microbiome
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


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