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Illinois Researchers Use Pyrosequencing To Study Canine Intestinal Bacteria

A dog's indiscriminate taste is not always a positive trait. In fact, it often leads to gastrointestinal infections and consequent ailments such as diarrhea and vomiting that come from eating spoiled food. Others develop gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases that are not directly attributed to the diet, but are influenced by intestinal bacteria.

Researchers at the University of Illinois are making strides in devising dietary interventions to combat these infections through advanced DNA pyrosequencing technology.

This new method of DNA sequencing has helped researchers uncover the phylogeny or "who's there" in a healthy dog's gut. Their goal was to obtain a standard that could be used as a comparison to diseased states in the future.

"It's a first step toward making progress in our understanding of how diet affects gastrointestinal infections," said Kelly Swanson, U of I associate professor of animal science. "Dogs do not rely heavily on microbial fermentation as it pertains to energy requirements, but a balanced and stable microbiota is critical for maintaining gastrointestinal health."

Up until now scientists could only culture a small percentage of the bacteria in a dog's gut and due to technological limitations, they couldn't determine the complete phylogeny.

More than 80,000 DNA sequences were evaluated in the first study to reveal that the highest number of bacteria present in the gut were Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes. Fusobacteria, while not as common, were also among the highest number of bacteria found.
 
 

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