Disinfection of maternal environments is associated with piglet microbiome composition from birth to weaning

Kayla Law, Brigit Lozinski, Ivanellis Torres, Samuel Davison, Adrienne Hilbrands, Emma Nelson, Jaime Parra-Suescun, Lee Johnston, Andres Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Maternal factors predetermine offspring development and health, including the establishment of offsprings' first microbiomes. Research in swine has shown that early microbial exposures impact microbiome colonization in piglets, but this phenomenon has never been tested in the context of delivery room disinfection. Thus, we exposed gestating sows to two delivery environments (n = 3/environment): Stalls cleaned with a broad-spectrum disinfectant (disinfected environment [D]) or stalls cleaned only with hot-water power washing (nondisinfected environment [Nde]), 3 days prior to farrowing. Microbiomes of sows and farrowed piglets (n = 27/environment) were profiled at 4 different time points from birth to weaning via 16S rRNA sequencing. The results show that although vaginal, milk, skin, and gut microbiomes in mothers were minimally affected, sanitation of farrowing stalls impacted piglet microbiome colonization. These effects were mainly characterized by lower bacterial diversity in the gut and nasal cavity, specifically in D piglets at birth, and by distinct taxonomic compositions from birth to weaning depending on the farrowing environment. For instance, environmental bacteria greatly influenced microbiome colonization in Nde piglets, which also harbored significantly higher abundances of gut Lactobacillus and nasal Enhydrobacter at several time points through weaning. Different sanitation strategies 7at birth also resulted in distinct microbiome assembly patterns, with lower microbial exposures in D piglets being associated with limited interactions between bacterial taxa. However, increasing microbial exposures at birth through the lack of disinfection were also associated with lower piglet weight, highlighting the importance of understanding the trade-offs among optimal microbiome development, health, and growth performance in swine production systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00663-21
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved.


  • Disinfection
  • Environment
  • Gut
  • Maternal
  • Microbiome
  • Piglet
  • Programming
  • Swine


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