Livestock microbial landscape patterns: Retail poultry microbiomes significantly vary by region and season

Microbes play key roles in animal welfare and food safety but there is little understanding of whether microbiomes associated with livestock vary in space and time. Here we analysed the bacteria associated with the carcasses of the same breed of 28 poultry broiler flocks at different stages of processing across two climatically similar UK regions over two seasons with 16S metabarcode DNA sequencing. Numbers of taxa types did not differ by region, but did by season (P = 1.2 × 10−19), and numbers increased with factory processing, especially in summer. There was also a significant (P < 1 × 10−4) difference in the presences and abundances of taxa types by season, region and factory processing stage, and the signal for seasonal and regional differences remained highly significant on final retail products. This study therefore revealed that both season and region influence the types and abundances of taxa on retail poultry products. That poultry microbiomes differ in space and time should be considered when testing the efficacy of microbial management interventions designed to increase animal welfare and food safety: these may have differential effects on livestock depending on location and timing.


B.J. Schofield, University of Lincoln, School of Life Sciences

N.A. Andreani, University of Lincoln, School of Life Sciences

C.S.Günther, University of Lincoln, School of Life Sciences

G.R Law, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

G. McMahon, Moy Park Ltd.

M. Swainson, University of Lincoln, National Centre for Food Manufacturing

M.R. Goddard, University of Lincoln, School of Life Sciences