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Effect of Rumen Protozoa on Escherichia coli O157:H7 in the Rumen and Feces of Specifically Faunated Sheep.

Stanford, K.I.M., Bach, S.J., Stephens, T.P., and McAllister, T.A. (2010). "Effect of Rumen Protozoa on Escherichia coli O157:H7 in the Rumen and Feces of Specifically Faunated Sheep.", Journal of Food Protection, 73(12), pp. 2197-2202.


The effects of rumen protozoal populations on ruminal populations and fecal shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 were evaluated by using specifically faunated sheep. Nine fauna-free sheep (three animals per treatment) were inoculated with Dasytricha spp. (DAS sheep); with mixed population A (PopA) comprising Entodinium spp., Isotricha spp., Diplodinium spp., and Polyplastron spp.; or with mixed population B (PopB) comprising Entodinium spp., Isotricha spp., Dasytricha spp., and Epidinium spp.; six sheep were maintained fauna-free (FF sheep) to serve as controls. Sheep were fed barley silage-based diets, and treatment groups were housed in isolated rooms. Sheep were inoculated orally with 1010 CFU of a four-strain mixture of nalidixic acid-resistant E. coli O157:H7. Samples of ruminal fluid and feces were collected over 77 days. Polyplastron spp. were detected in only one sheep in PopA, and Dasytricha spp. were detected only once within the PopB cohort. Sheep in the DAS group were 2.03 times more likely (P < 0.001) to shed E. coli O157:H7 than were those in the other three treatments, whereas the PopB sheep were less likely (0.65; P < 0.05) to shed this bacterium. The likelihood of harboring ruminal E. coli O157:H7 also tended (P = 0.06) to be higher in DAS and was lower (P < 0.01) in FF than in other cohorts. Possibly, Dasytricha spp. had a hosting effect, and Epidinium spp. had a predatory relationship, with E. coli O157:H7. Additional study into predator-prey and hosting relationships among rumen protozoa and E. coli O157:H7 is warranted.

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