This study investigated the effects of early antibiotic administration (EAA) on cecal bacterial communities and their metabolic profiles in pigs fed diets with different protein levels. Eighteen litters (total 180) of piglets on day (d) 7 were fed either a commercial creep feed or commercial creep feed + antibiotic (Olaquindox, Oxytetracycline Calcium and Kitasamycin) until d 42. On d 42, pigs within each group were further randomly fed a normal crude protein (CP) diet (20% and 18% CP from d 42 to d 77 and d 77 to d 120, respectively) or a low-CP diet (16% and 14% CP from d 42 to d 77 and d 77 to d 120, respectively), generating 4 groups, control-low CP (Con-LP), control-normal CP (Con-NP), antibiotic-low CP (Ant-LP) and antibiotic-normal CP (Ant-NP), respectively. On d 77 and d 120, 5 pigs per group were slaughtered and cecal materials were collected for bacterial analysis. With cecal bacteria, principle component analysis (PCA) of the denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) profile showed two distinct groups of samples from low-CP diet and samples from normal-CP diet. Real-time PCR showed that EAA did not have significant effect on major bacterial groups, only showed significant interactions (P < 0.05) with CP level for Lactobacillus counts on d 77 and Clostridium cluster XIVa counts on d 120 with higher values in the Con-NP group compared to the Ant-NP groups. Low-CP diet increased (P < 0.05) short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) producing bacteria counts (Bacteroidetes on d 77 and d 120; Clostridium cluster IV and Clostridium cluster XIVa on d 77), but decreased (P < 0.05) Escherichia coli counts on d 77 and d 120. For metabolites, EAA increased (P < 0.05) protein fermentation products (p-cresol, indole and skatole on d 77; ammonia, putrescine and spermidine on d 120), and showed significant interactions (P < 0.05) with CP level for p-cresol and skatole concentrations on d 77 and putrescine and spermidine concentrations on d 120 with higher values in the Ant-LP group compared to the Con-LP groups. Low-CP diet increased (P < 0.05) SCFA concentration (propionate and butyrate) on d 77, but reduced (P < 0.05) the protein fermentation products (ammonia, phenol and indole on d 77; branched chain fatty acid (BCFA), ammonia, tyramine, cadaverine and indole on d 120). These results indicate that EAA had less effect on bacterial communities, but increased bacterial fermentation of protein in the cecum under low-CP diet. Low-CP diet altered bacterial communities with an increase in the counts of SCFA-producing bacteria and a decrease in the counts of Escherichia coli, and markedly reduced the protein fermentation products.
- Cecal bacteria
- Low crude protein diet