ExPEC-typical virulence-associated genes correlate with successful colonization by intestinal E. coli in a small piglet group

Environ Microbiol. 2008 Jul;10(7):1742-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2008.01595.x. Epub 2008 Mar 28.


Upon studying the transmission of Escherichia coli from a sow to five of her piglets, we observed domination of the coliform flora in piglets by a single E. coli clone, especially after weaning. This haemolytic cloneH1 did not harbour any virulence determinants typical for intestinal pathogenic E. coli isolates from swine but had a virulence gene profile very similar to extraintestinal E. coli (ExPEC), including genes coding for P fimbriae and several iron acquisition systems, besides having an affiliation to the phylogenetic B2 group. Overall, we show that the presence of higher numbers of ExPEC-typical virulence-associated genes (VAGs) in clones correlate with their successful colonization ability in piglets. We conclude that VAGs typical for ExPEC also support intestinal colonization in healthy pigs. Faeces of healthy domestic pigs can harbour high numbers of ExPEC-similar E. coli and are suggested to be a potential risk for the transmission of such bacteria to other hosts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli Infections / veterinary*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Fimbriae Proteins / genetics*
  • Fimbriae Proteins / metabolism
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases / microbiology*
  • Virulence / genetics*


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Fimbriae Proteins