A Pilot Study to Investigate the Feasibility of a Multiple Locus Variable Number Tandem Repeat Analysis to Understand the Epidemiology of Dichelobacter nodosus in Ovine Footrot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Warwick University
  • Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter
  • Institute for Microbiology and Infection


Dichelobacter nodosus is the essential pathogen in ovine footrot, an important cause of lameness in sheep that reduces productivity and welfare. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using multiple locus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) developed to investigate isolates to understand the molecular epidemiology of Dichelobacter nodosus in ovine footrot by investigation of communities of strains. MLVA sensitivity was improved by optimizing PCR conditions to 100% specificity for D. nodosus. The improved MLVA scheme was used to investigate non-cultured DNA purified from swabs (swab DNA) and cultured DNA from isolates (isolate DNA) from 152 foot and 38 gingival swab samples from 10 sheep sampled on four occasions in a longitudinal study. Isolate DNA was obtained from 6/152 (3.9%) feet and 5/6 yielded complete MLVA profiles, three strains were detected. Two of the three isolate strains were also detected in isolate DNA from 2 gingival crevice cultures. Complete MLVA profiles were obtained from swab DNA from 39 (25.7%) feet. There were 22 D. nodosus community types that were comprised of 7 single strain and 15 multi-strain communities. Six community types were detected more than once and three of these were detected on the same four sheep and the same two feet over time. There were a minimum of 17 and a maximum of 25 strain types of D. nodosus in the study. The three isolate strain types were also the most frequently detected strain types in swab DNA. We conclude that the MLVA from swab DNA detects the same strains as culture, is much more sensitive and can be used to describe and differentiate communities and strains on sheep, feet and over time. It is therefore a sensitive molecular tool to study D. nodosus strains directly from DNA without culture.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581342
JournalFrontiers In Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020