The bacterial pedome associated with foot pathologies in sheep: a case study

A. K. Chambers, H. G. Jones, T. Wilkinson, H. J. Worgan, A. Warr, K. M. Huson, N. R. McEwan

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Hoof lameness is considered to be a major health issue in sheep, and can impact on both animal welfare and production of livestock. However the causes, although generally assumed to have a microbiological basis, are poorly understood. The work presented here investigated the pedome (the bacterial community of the foot) of sheep which were seen to have one of the following
conditions: foot rot; a toe granuloma; Ovine Interdigital Dermatitis (OID) / scald. These were compared relative to samples collected from the healthy feet of the same animals. Samples were collected from commercial lambs from two flocks
of sheep (one Beulahs, one Suffolks) at times of routine husbandry work. All animals in the flocks and those which showed signs of lameness (7 per flock) were used for sample collection. Interdigital scrapes were collected from lame feet, together with controls (i.e. non-lame feet) from the same animals. Of the lame feet, 3 were classified as having foot rot, 10 had OID / scald and 1 had a toe granuloma. DNA was isolated from the interdigital scrapes and analysed by next generation sequencing following amplification of DNA by PCR. All foot rot samples showed unusual microbial communities: one having an elevated
abundance of Fusobacterium spp.; another with an elevated level of a Corynebacterium sp.; and the third an increased level of a number of unidentified sequences. One of the OID samples also had a high abundance of Fusobacterium spp., and another had a similar pattern of unknown organisms to that seen in the example of the foot rot case. The toe granuloma case showed
an elevated level of a Mycoplasma sp. Therefore the organisms described here are different from those previously identified in a similar investigation into this topic. However the other eight OID samples had patterns similar to those in controls. This suggests microbial communities associated with ovine foot rot are complex, and that there are bacteria associated with the condition
which remain unknown
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-243
Number of pages4
JournalLarge Animal Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • sheep
  • foot rot
  • bacteria
  • pedome


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