Lactobacillus animalis NP51 is a direct-fed microbial strain (DFM) extensively used as a pre-harvest food safety mitigation in feedlot cattle due to its antagonistic effects against human foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7. NP51 not only promotes overall gut health but interferes with the ability of these pathogens to colonize the gastrointestinal tract of cattle. As a result, NP51 reduces fecal shedding of Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in cattle presented for harvest and the load of these pathogens that enter the human food chain. Cattle are administered a high dose (1 × 10 9 CFU/head/day) of NP51 to reduce fecal shedding of foodborne pathogens. Ensiled animal feedstuffs naturally contain a high load of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and it is not possible to detect and quantify the level of a specific LAB strain (e.g., NP51) in this matrix using traditional microbiological culture. The purpose of this study was to develop a molecular method to detect and quantify viable populations of a specific LAB strain (e.g., NP51) in cattle feedstuffs. The NP51 whole genome sequence was aligned with closely related LAB clustering within the same well-supported clade in a LAB phylogeny derived from 30 conserved amino acid encoding sequence to identify orthologs. A sequence encoding recombinational DNA repair protein RecT was found to be unique to NP51 and used to design primers and a probe for molecular detection and quantification of NP51. The primers and probe were confirmed to be specific to NP51 in vitro. Total RNA was extracted from silage samples, including samples naturally inoculated in the field and control samples that were artificially spiked with a range of NP51 concentrations in the laboratory. Reverse-transcriptase quantitative real-time (RT-qRTi) PCR was used to quantify cDNA copies in samples and cycle threshold (Ct) values were compared to a standard curve to estimate NP51 concentrations. Our results indicate this novel molecular method is suitable to confirm the presence and estimate the concentration of a specific LAB strain in animal feedstuffs containing high background levels of LAB.
- Direct fed microbial
- Lactic acid bacteria
- Molecular detection and quantification
- Viable cells