Impact of oestrus synchronization devices on ewes vaginal microbiota and artificial insemination outcome

Reinoso-Peláez, E.L., Saura,M., González-Recio, O., González, C., Fernández, A., Peiro-Pastor, R., López-García, A., Saborío-Montero, A., Calvo, J.H., Ramón, M., Serrano, M. 2023. Impact of oestrus synchronization devices on ewes vaginal microbiota and artificial insemination outcome. Front Microbiol 14:1063807. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2023.1063807

Introduction: The low pregnancy rate by artificial insemination in sheep represents a fundamental challenge for breeding programs. In this species, oestrus synchronization is carried out by manipulating hormonal regimens through the insertion of progestogen intravaginal devices. This reproductive strategy may alter the vaginal microbiota affecting the artificial insemination outcome.

Methods: In this study, we analyzed the vaginal microbiome of 94 vaginal swabs collected from 47 ewes with alternative treatments applied to the progesterone-releasing intravaginal devices (probiotic, maltodextrin, antibiotic and control), in two sample periods (before placing and after removing the devices). To our knowledge, this is the first study using nanopore-based metagenome sequencing for vaginal microbiome characterization in livestock.

Results: Our results revealed a significant lower abundance of the genera Oenococcus (Firmicutes) and Neisseria (Proteobacteria) in pregnant compared to non-pregnant ewes. We also detected a significant lower abundance of Campylobacter in the group of samples treated with the probiotic.

Discussion: Although the use of probiotics represents a promising practice to improve insemination results, the election of the suitable species and concentration requires further investigation. In addition, the use of progestogen in the synchronization devices seemed to increase the alpha-diversity and decrease the abundance of harmful microorganisms belonging to Gammaproteobacteria and Fusobacteriia classes, suggesting a beneficial effect of their use.