The tonsils of mammals such as humans and pigs are colonized with an extensive microbiota and are frequently the site for asymptomatic carriage of bacterial pathogens. The goal of this study was to determine the composition of the microbial community of the tonsils in healthy pigs. Tonsils were collected from eight pigs from two different healthy herds. Samples of the tonsils from each pig were used for culture dependent and culture independent identification of the microbial community. Aerobic cultivation identified Pasteurella multocida, Actinobacillus spp., Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus suis, Streptococcus dysgalactiae, and Escherichia coli from ≥50% of the pigs in both herds. For culture independent studies, microbial community members were identified by 16S rRNA sequences using the Ribosomal Database Project Pipeline programs developed at Michigan State University. Dominant genera identified by 16S rRNA analysis in pigs from both herds included Actinobacillus, Haemophilus, Pasteurella, Porphyromonas, Fusobacterium, Bacteroides, and Prevotella. These genera were detected in nearly every pig regardless of herd. In contrast, there was an asymmetric distribution of minor genera between the two herds, suggesting herd-specific differences in the microbial communities. In addition, we demonstrated primer bias between two frequently used forward primers when targeting the tonsillar community. Our results suggest that the major bacterial community members found in porcine tonsils are the same regardless of herd, while the minor species are unique to each herd. This is the first analysis using 16S rRNA sequence libraries of the composition of microbial communities in the porcine upper respiratory tract. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
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