Metabotyping the Welsh population of badgers based on thoracic fluid

James Scott-Baumann, Richard Pizzey, Manfred Beckmann, Bernardo Villarreal-Ramos, Jonathan King, Beverley Hopkins, David Rooke, Glyn Hewinson, Luis A J Mur

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INTRODUCTION: The European badger (Meles meles) is a known wildlife reservoir for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and a better understanding of the epidemiology of bTB in this wildlife species is required for disease control in both wild and farmed animals. Flow infusion electrospray-high-resolution mass spectrometry (FIE-HRMS) may potentially identify novel metabolite biomarkers based on which new, rapid, and sensitive point of care tests for bTB infection could be developed.

OBJECTIVES: In this foundational study, we engaged on assessing the baseline metabolomic variation in the non-bTB infected badger population ("metabotyping") across Wales.

METHODS: FIE-HRMS was applied on thoracic fluid samples obtained by post-mortem of bTB negative badgers (n = 285) which were part of the Welsh Government 'All Wales Badger Found Dead' study.

RESULTS: Using principal component analysis and partial least squares-discriminant analyses, the major sources of variation were linked to sex, and to a much lesser extent age, as indicated by tooth wear. Within the female population, variation was seen between lactating and non-lactating individuals. No significant variation linked to the presence of bite wounds, obvious lymphatic lesions or geographical region of origin was observed.

CONCLUSION: Future metabolomic work when making comparisons between bTB infected and non-infected badger samples will only need be sex-matched and could focus on males only, to avoid lactation bias.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Early online date07 May 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 07 May 2022


  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Male
  • Metabolomics
  • Mustelidae
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine/epidemiology


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