Microbiology 2

Research title:

The milk microbiota and intramammary infections in dairy cows

Tutor: Paolo Moroni


Contact details

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Skype: paolomoroni19


State of the art 

The evolution of molecular and omic technologies has enabled numerous breakthroughs in the study of microbial communities, making us aware of the varied and complex assortments of microbes that inhabit living animals, and of the reciprocal interactions that these entertain among themselves and with their hosts. Following the unexpected acknowledgement that even the healthy mammary gland, and the milk contained within it, are colonized by a variety of microbes, omic approaches have already been used to enable its characterization in humans, as well as to understand the role it plays in both the mother and the infant health. Following the studies on raw milk microbial ecology, omic approaches are now beginning to be applied also to the sensu stricto milk microbiota of dairy ruminants. As a result, its relevant interactions with the physiology and health of the lactating dam and the suckling offspring are becoming more and more evident. When considering the significant economic implications that this can have for dairy ruminant farming, the application of omic sciences to the milk microbiota is expected to improve our understanding of open questions and challenges such as the etiology and dynamics of sub-clinical and culture-negative mastitis, the impact of farming management decisions on the mammary gland health and offspring health, the role of the gut as a mastitis pathogen reservoir, the development of novel strategies for preventing and contrasting mastitis and the control of antibiotic resistance.




Aims of the project 


The aim of our study will be to use next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies to assess the microbial community of milk and colostrum of Holstein dairy cows and evaluate its potential association with intramammary infection (IMI) and early clinical mastitis (CM). A prospective study will be conducted in different farms from Northern Italy to describe the microbial diversity of bovine milk samples derived from healthy, subclinical and clinical animals. Cows with no previous history of clinical mastitis in the same lactation, and with two consecutive monthly SCC values lower than 100,000 cells/ml immediately prior to sample collection, will be eligible to be included in the study at before dry off. Milk before dry off, colostrum and mature milk samples will be collected from all 4 quarters of unaffected, subclinical and clinical quarters across a range of somatic cell counts (200.000 SCC/ml). For microbiome analysis, bacterial DNA will be extracted from each quarter and analyzed by Miseq (Illumina), to provide a more detailed knowledge of the milk microbial communities in healthy, subclinical and clinical quarters and their interactions. In this way, useful information on the factors influencing milk quality and udder health will be obtained. This is likely to have important consequences on innate immunity in the mammary gland, having in mind that the microbiota is associated with inhibition of pathogen colonization, and stimulation of both development and maintenance of the immune system. Part of the project (at least 8 months) will be done at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.



Recent publications of the tutor in the field 


1. Addis MF, Bronzo V, Puggioni GM, Cacciotto C, Tedde V, Pagnozzi D, Locatelli, C, Casula A, Curone G, Uzzau S, Moroni P. Relationship between milk cathelicidin abundance and microbiologic culture in clinical mastitis. 2017. J Dairy Sci. 2017 Jan 25. pii: S0022-0302(17)30080-2. doi: 10.3168/jds.2016-12110. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28131570.

2. Locatelli C, Cremonesi P, Caprioli A, Carfora V, Ianzano A, Barberio A, Morandi S, Casula A, Castiglioni B, Bronzo V, Moroni P. Occurrence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in dairy cattle herds, related swine  farms, and humans in contact with herds. 2017.  J Dairy Sci. 2017 Jan;100(1):608-619. doi: 10.3168/jds.2016-11797. PubMed PMID: 27865508.

3. Addis MF, Tanca A, Uzzau S, Oikonomou G, Bicalho RC, Moroni P. The bovine milk microbiota: insights and perspectives from -omics studies. 2016.  Mol Biosyst. 2016 Jul 19;12(8):2359-72. doi: 10.1039/c6mb00217j. Review. PubMed PMID: 27216801.

4. Bardiau M, Caplin J, Detilleux J, Graber H, Moroni P, Taminiau B, Mainil JG. 2016. Existence of two groups of Staphylococcus aureus strains isolated from bovine mastitis based on biofilm formation, intracellular survival, capsular profile and agr-typing. Vet Microbiol. 2016 Mar 15;185:1-6. doi:10.1016/j.vetmic.2016.01.003. PubMed PMID: 26931384.

5. Ospina PA, Rota N, Locatelli C, Colombo L, Pollera C, Giacinti G, Bronzo V, Casula A, Arpinelli A, Brossette V, Facchi M, Patelli A, Ruggeri A, Barberio A, Potenza G, Nydam DV, Moroni P.2016. Randomized noninferiority field trial comparing 2 first-generation cephalosporin products at dry off in quarters receiving an internal teat sealant in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2016 Aug;99(8):6519-31. doi: 10.3168/jds.2015-10807. PubMed PMID: 27265178.