Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) are two of the most significant pathogens affecting swine. Co-infections are common and result in respiratory disease and reduced weight gain in growing pigs. Although PRRS modified live virus (MLV) vaccines are widely used to decrease PRRS-associated losses, they are generally considered inadequate for disease control. The gut microbiome provides an alternative strategy to enhance vaccine efficacy and improve PRRS control. The objective of this study was to identify gut microbiome characteristics associated with improved outcome in pigs immunized with a PRRS MLV and co-challenged with PRRSV and PCV2b. Twenty-eight days after vaccination and prior to co-challenge, fecal samples were collected from an experimental population of 50 nursery pigs. At 42 days post-challenge, 20 pigs were retrospectively identified as having high or low growth outcomes during the post-challenge period. Gut microbiomes of the two outcome groups were compared using the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA) and 16S rDNA sequencing. High growth outcomes were associated with several gut microbiome characteristics, such as increased bacterial diversity, increased Bacteroides pectinophilus, decreased Mycoplasmataceae species diversity, higher Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratios, increased relative abundance of the phylum Spirochaetes, reduced relative abundance of the family Lachnospiraceae, and increased Lachnospiraceae species C6A11 and P6B14. Overall, this study identifies gut microbiomes associated with improved outcomes in PRRS vaccinated pigs following a polymicrobial respiratory challenge and provides evidence towards the gut microbiome playing a role in PRRS vaccine efficacy.
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