Isolation and characterization of faecalibacterium prausnitzii from calves and piglets

Carla Foditsch, Thiago M A Santos, Andre G V Teixeira, Richard Van Vleck Pereira, Juliana M. Dias, Natália Gaeta, Rodrigo C. Bicalho

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46 Scopus citations


The goal of our study was to isolate and characterize Faecalibacterium prausnitzii from fecal samples of healthy calves and piglets, in order to develop a novel probiotic for livestock animals. We identified 203 isolates of Faecalibacterium sp., which were clustered in 40 genetically distinct groups. One representative isolate from each cluster was selected for further characterization. The concentrations of the short chain fatty acids (SCFA) acetate, butyrate, propionate and isobutyrate in the culture media were measured by gas chromatography. We observed reduction in the concentration of acetate followed by concomitant increase in the concentration of butyrate, suggesting that the isolates were consuming acetate present in the media and producing butyrate. Butyrate production correlated positively with bacterial growth. Since butyrate has many benefits to the colonic epithelial cells, the selection of strains that produce higher amounts of butyrate is extremely important for the development of this potential probiotic. The effect of pH and concentration of bile salts on bacterial growth was also evaluated in order to mimic the conditions encountered by F. prausnitzii in vivo. The optimal pH for growth ranged between 5.5 and 6.7, while most isolates were inhibited by of the lowest concentration of bile salts tested (0.1%). Antimicrobial resistance profile showed that most isolates of Faecalibacterium sp. were resistant against ciprofloxacin and sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim. More than 50% of the isolates were resistant to tetracycline, amikacin, cefepime and cefoxitin. A total of 19 different combinations of multidrug resistance were observed among the isolates. Our results provide new insights into the cultural and physiological characteristics of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii illustrating large variability in short chain fatty acid production, in vitro growth, sensitivity to bile salts, and antibiotic resistance and suggesting that future probiotic candidates should be carefully studied before elected for in vivo studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0116465
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 31 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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