Animal husbandry has been key to the sustainability of human societies for millennia. Livestock animals, such as cattle, convert plants to protein biomass due to a compartmentalized gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and the complementary contributions of a diverse GIT microbiota, thereby providing humans with meat and dairy products. Research on cattle gut microbial symbionts has mainly focused on the rumen (which is the primary fermentation compartment) and there is a paucity of functional insight on the intestinal (distal end) microbiota, where most foodborne zoonotic bacteria reside. Here, we present the Fecobiome Initiative (or FI), an international effort that aims at facilitating collaboration on research projects related to the intestinal microbiota, disseminating research results, and increasing public availability of resources. By doing so, the FI can help mitigate foodborne and animal pathogens that threaten livestock and human health, reduce the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance in cattle and their proximate environment, and potentially improve the welfare and nutrition of animals. We invite all researchers interested in this type of research to join the FI through our website: www.fecobiome.com.
Keywords: gastrointestinal tract; microbiota; research initiative; zoonoses.