Distinct patterns of microbial metabolic fingerprints in sows and their offspring: a pilot study

  • Łukasz GrześkowiakEmail author
  • Jasmin Teske
  • Jürgen Zentek
  • Wilfried Vahjen
Original Paper


Microbial metabolism and growth in the intestinal tract depend on the composition of substrates present in the digesta and their ability to be metabolised by the microorganisms. The aim of this pilot study was to characterise potential hindgut microbial activity during perinatal period in sows and their offspring. Rectal samples from three sows (1–3 weeks before and after birth) and three of their piglets (1–5 weeks after birth), were subjected to assays using BIOLOG GEN III microplates to produce metabolic fingerprints for each animal. The number of metabolised substrates of the sow hindgut microbiota was stable during the pregnancy and lactation periods, as assessed by the richness index. In piglets, the richness was stable during the suckling period and at beginning of weaning, however, it decreased when the piglets were 5 weeks old (P ≤ 0.05). Analysis of associations between the sows and the piglets and the microbial metabolic potential showed that microbial metabolism was strongly associated with the catabolism of carbohydrates especially in sows. Only 5-week-old weaned piglets clustered together with the sows regarding the microbial catabolism of substrates, but not suckling piglets. The association analyses clustered all the piglets in two groups distinctive for litter. The analysis of metabolic fingerprints via microbial growth with different substrates can be useful to positively influence microbial community function such as selectively enhancing desirable active microbial populations to benefit health of the gut and the animal.


Profile microbiota Metabolism BIOLOG Sow Piglet Nutrition 



We thank Ms M. Eitinger for laboratory assistance as well as Dr. Baljit Singh for the mentorship and guidance throughout the project. The authors would like to thank the University of Saskatchewan Western College of Veterinary Medicine for the funding for this project through the Interprovincial Undergraduate Student Research Awards. ŁG was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG (GR 5107/2-1).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

203_2019_1766_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (311 kb)
Figure S1Associations between the study piglets’ microbiota and the metabolised substrates (PDF 311 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Animal Nutrition, Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Western College of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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