Ovine pedomics: The first study of the ovine foot 16S rRNA-based microbiome

Leo A. Calvo-Bado*, Brian B. Oakley, Scot E. Dowd, Laura E. Green, Graham F. Medley, Atiya Ul-Hassan, Vicky Bateman, William Gaze, Luci Witcomb, Rose Grogono-Thomas, Jasmeet Kaler, Claire L. Russell, Elizabeth M.H. Wellington

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


We report the first study of the bacterial microbiome of ovine interdigital skin based on 16S rRNA by pyrosequencing and conventional cloning with Sanger-sequencing. Three flocks were selected, one a flock with no signs of footrot or interdigital dermatitis, a second flock with interdigital dermatitis alone and a third flock with both interdigital dermatitis and footrot. The sheep were classified as having either healthy interdigital skin (H) and interdigital dermatitis (ID) or virulent footrot (VFR). The ovine interdigital skin bacterial community varied significantly by flock and clinical condition. The diversity and richness of operational taxonomic units was greater in tissue from sheep with ID than H or VFR-affected sheep. Actinobacteria, Bacteriodetes, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria were the most abundant phyla comprising 25 genera. Peptostreptococcus, Corynebacterium and Staphylococcus were associated with H, ID and VFR, respectively. Sequences of Dichelobacter nodosus, the causal agent of ovine footrot, were not amplified because of mismatches in the 16S rRNA universal forward primer (27F). A specific real-time PCR assay was used to demonstrate the presence of D. nodosus, which was detected in all samples including the flock with no signs of ID or VFR. Sheep with ID had significantly higher numbers of D. nodosus (10 4 -10 9 cells per g tissue) than those with H or VFR feet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1426-1437
Number of pages12
JournalISME Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council UK (BBRSC) under the Combating Endemic Diseases of Farmed Animals for Sustainability (CEDFAS) initiative Grant No. BBE01870X1.


  • footrot
  • microbiome
  • sheep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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