Landscapes of Enteric Virome Signatures in Early-Weaned Piglets

Microbiol Spectr. 2022 Aug 31;10(4):e0169822. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.01698-22. Epub 2022 Aug 1.


Diarrhea caused by early-weaning-induced stress can increase mortality rates and reduce growth performance of piglets, seriously harming the livestock industry. To date, studies on the gut microbiome of early-weaned piglets have focused almost exclusively on bacteria, while studies on their gut virome are extremely lacking. Here, we used metagenomic and metatranscriptomic sequencing combined with bioinformatic analysis techniques to preliminarily characterize the intestinal virome of early-weaned piglets at different biological classification levels. The alpha diversity of enteroviruses was generally elevated in early-weaned piglets with diarrhea, compared to healthy piglets, whereas the two groups of piglets showed no significant difference in beta diversity. In addition, the species compositions of the gut virome were similar between healthy piglets and piglets with diarrhea, while their respective dominant species were somewhat different. We also identified 58 differential DNA viruses and 16 differential RNA viruses between the two groups of piglets at all biological taxonomic levels. Of these, 1 (family Dhakavirus) and 6 (phylum Artverviricota, class Revtraviricetes, order Ortervirales, family Retroviridae, genus Gammaretrovirus, and species Kirsten murine sarcoma virus) specific viruses disappeared from the intestines of healthy piglets and piglets with diarrhea, respectively. Moreover, we found that some DNA and RNA viruses formed strong correlations among themselves or between them. IMPORTANCE This study systematically reveals the biological diversity, structure, and composition of intestinal DNA and RNA virus profiles in early-weaned piglets. Furthermore, characteristics of differences in gut viromes between early-weaned healthy piglets and piglets with diarrhea were also elucidated. Importantly, some potential biomarkers for early-weaned piglets with diarrhea were identified. These findings fill a gap for the early-weaned piglet gut virome and lay the foundation for the development of strategies to target enteroviruses for the prevention and treatment of early-weaning-induced piglet diarrhea.

Keywords: early weaning; gut virome; metagenome; metatranscriptome; piglet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Diarrhea / microbiology
  • Diarrhea / veterinary
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / genetics
  • Mice
  • Swine
  • Virome* / genetics
  • Weaning