The cutaneous microbiota of healthy horses in one barn in Ontario and evaluation of the effect of individual, skin site & season on bacterial composition and diversity



O'Shaughnessy-Hunter, Laura

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


University of Guelph


Very little is known about the microbiota of equine skin. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effect of body site, individual and season on taxonomic distributions, as well as alpha and beta diversity on the cutaneous microbiota of healthy horses by sequencing the V4 region of the 16SrRNA gene. Samples from the pastern, dorsum, abdomen and groin were collected from 12 horses at four timepoints within the same year. Alpha diversity was higher in the Winter and Summer than the Spring and Fall whereas it did not differ between skin site or individual. Significant differences were seen in beta diversity between skin site and season, but populations clustered more based on season. The cutaneous microbiota of horses is diverse, season is the main driving factor and healthy horses sharing an environment have similar microbiota. This longitudinal survey may serve as a baseline for future larger scale studies.



Microbiology, Microbiota, 16S rRNA, Equine dermatology, Cutaneous microbiota