Examination of the fecal microbiota in dairy cows infected with bovine leukemia virus

Jumpei Uchiyama, Hironobu Murakami, Reiichiro Sato, Keijiro Mizukami, Takehito Suzuki, Ayaka Shima, Genki Ishihara, Kazuyuki Sogawa, Masahiro Sakaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Infection of cattle by bovine leukemia virus (BLV) causes significant economic losses in terms of milk and meat production in many countries. Because the gut microbiota may be altered by immunomodulation resulting from viral infections, we hypothesized that latent BLV infection would change the gut (i.e., rumen and hindgut) microbiota of infected cattle. In this study, we compared the gut microbiota of 22 uninfected and 29 BLV-infected Holstein-Friesian cows kept on the same farm, by 16S rRNA amplicon sequence analysis of fecal samples. First, we found that the fecal microbial diversity of BLV-infected cows differed slightly from that of uninfected cows. According to differential abundance analysis, some bacterial taxa associated with ruminal fermentation, such as Lachnospiraceae and Veillonellaceae families, were enriched in the fecal microbiota of uninfected cows. Second, the virus propagation ability of BLV strains was examined in vitro, and the correlation of the fecal microbiota with this virus propagation ability was analyzed. Higher virus propagation was shown to lead to less diversity in the microbiota. Differential abundance analysis showed that one bacterial taxon of genus Sanguibacteroides was negatively correlated with the virus propagation ability of BLV strains. Considering these results, BLV infection was speculated to decrease energy production efficiency in the cows via modification of rumen and hindgut microbiota, which partly relies on the virus propagation ability of BLV strains. This may explain the secondary negative effects of BLV infections such as increased susceptibility to other infections and decreased lifetime milk production and reproductive efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108547
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Bovine leukemia virus
  • Feces
  • Gut microbiota
  • Lactating cows
  • Latent infection
  • Retrovirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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