Bacteria colonize stallion semen during collection and processing which may cause disease in inseminated females or negatively affect sperm quality during storage prior to insemination. Antibiotics are added to semen extenders to control the growth of these bacteria but may induce antimicrobial resistance. Research into alternatives to antibiotics for this purpose requires knowledge of which bacteria are present in semen. Not all bacteria in semen, however, can be identified by conventional microbiological techniques. The objectives of the study were to: i) determine which bacteria are present in stallion semen using metagenomics; and ii) investigate individual differences in bacterial content in semen from all stallions on one premises. Bacterial DNA was extracted from ejaculates from seven stallions (one ejaculate per stallion) and bacteria were identified using 16S sequencing. In total, 83 bacterial genera were identified, varying from 25 to 52 among different individuals. There was a negative correlation (r = -0.81212; P <  0.05) between the presence of Treponema spp. and Advenella spp. In conclusion, most of the bacteria present in stallion semen could be identified to genus level by 16S sequencing even when present at a low frequency. This method of identification may help to clarify individual variation in bacterial content and its potential effects on fertility.
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