Skip to content

First study of pathogen load and localisation of ovine footrot using fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Luci. A Witcomb
  • Laura Green
  • Leonides A Calvo-Bado
  • Claire L. Russell
  • Edward M Smith
  • Rosemary Grogono-Thomas
  • Elizabeth M H Wellington
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-327
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number3-4
Early online date9 Feb 2015
DateAccepted/In press - 29 Jan 2015
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Feb 2015
DatePublished (current) - 17 Apr 2015


Analysis of bacterial populations in situ provides insights into pathogen population dynamics and potential reservoirs for disease. Here we report a culture-independent study of ovine footrot (FR); a debilitating bacterial disease that has significant economic impact on sheep farming worldwide. Disease begins as an interdigital dermatitis (ID), which may then progress to separation of the hoof horn from the underlying epidermis causing severe footrot (SFR). Dichelobacter nodosus is the causative agent of ovine FR, however, the role of Fusobacterium necrophorum and other bacteria present in the environment and on the feet of sheep is less clear. The objective of this study was to use fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) to detect, localise and quantify D. nodosus, F. necrophorum and the domain Bacteria from interdigital skin biopsies of healthy, ID- and SFR-affected feet. D. nodosus and F. necrophorum populations were restricted primarily to the epidermis, but both were detected more frequently in feet with ID or SFR than in healthy feet. D. nodosus cell counts were significantly higher in feet with ID and SFR (p<0.05) than healthy feet, whereas F. necrophorum cell counts were significantly higher only in feet with SFR (p<0.05) than healthy feet. These results, together with other published data, indicate that D. nodosus likely drives pathogenesis of footrot from initiation of ID to SFR; with D. nodosus cell counts increasing prior to onset of ID and SFR. In contrast, F. necrophorum cell counts increase after SFR onset, which may suggest an accessory role in disease pathogenesis, possibly contributing to the severity and duration of SFR.

    Research areas

  • ovine footrot, FISH

Download statistics

No data available



  • 1-s2.0-S0378113515000395-main

    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via Elsevier at doi:10.1016/j.vetmic.2015.01.022. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Final published version, 1 MB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups