Fecal Microbiome Features Associated with Extended-Spectrum β-Lactamase-Producing Enterobacterales Carriage in Dairy Heifers

Adar Cohen, Liat Poupko, Hillary A. Craddock, Yair Motro, Boris Khalfin, Amit Zelinger, Sharon Tirosh-Levy, Shlomo E. Blum, Amir Steinman, Jacob Moran-Gilad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs) are a growing public health threat, and one key human exposure point is through livestock and the food supply. Understanding microbiome factors associated with fecal ESBL carriage can help detect and ideally assist with controlling and preventing ESBL dissemination among livestock. The objective of this study was to investigate the diversity and composition of the heifer fecal microbiota in ESBL-producing Enterobacterales (ESBL-PE) carriers and noncarriers. A total of 59 fecal samples were collected from replacement heifers between 12 and 18 months old from eight dairy farms in central Israel. Genomic DNA was extracted, and 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing was performed (Illumina short reads), focusing on a comparison between 33 ESBL-PE carriers (55.9%) and 26 (44.1%) noncarriers. Samples were analyzed and compared using QIIME2 (DADA2 pipeline and taxonomic assignment with SILVA database) and associated R packages for alpha and beta diversity and taxonomic abundances. Alpha diversity (Shannon diversity) and beta diversity (unweighted UniFrac) showed no significant difference between ESBL-PE carriers and noncarriers. Heifers from farms feeding calves with pooled colostrum had higher ESBL-PE carriage rates than heifers from farms feeding with individual mother colostrum (p < 0.001). Taxonomical abundance analysis revealed that the most common bacterial phyla were Bacteroidetes (44%) and Firmicutes (38%). There was no significant difference in taxonomic composition between ESBL-PE carriers and noncarriers at the phylum and genus levels. However, LEfSe biomarker discovery analysis identified several genera which were significantly different between carriers and noncarriers. For example, Prevotellacaea, Bacteroides, Rikenellaceae, and uncultured Bacteroidales were more abundant in ESBL carriers than noncarriers. Some aspects of microbiota composition differ between ESBL carriers and noncarriers in dairy heifers, specifically the abundance of certain genera. Feeding with pooled colostrum may play a role in that assembly. These could potentially serve as markers of ESBL-PE carriage. However, further research is needed to determine whether these observed differences have a significant impact on colonization with ESBL-PE.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1738
Issue number14
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • ESBL
  • One Health
  • antibiotic resistance
  • cattle
  • food safety
  • livestock health
  • microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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