Su, R., Munns, K., Beauchemin, K. A., Schwartzkopf-Genswein, K., Jin-Quan, L., Topp, E. and Sharma, R. 2011. Effect of backgrounding and transition diets on fecal concentration and strain types of commensalEscherichia coliin beef cattle. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 91: 449-458. The aim of the study was to assess the effect of four different backgrounding diets [55% corn silage in combination with 40% of either temper rolled barley-grain, wheat dried distillers' grain, corn dried distillers' grain or millrun (dry matter basis)] and a transition diet containing increasing amount of concentrate (60 to 90%) on fecal Escherichia coli in feedlot heifers. Heifers were fed backgrounding forage based diets for 91 d and then were shifted to a transition diet for an additional 18 d. Strain characterization of E. coli (n=224) was carried out at time time points over 109 d and indicated that heifers fed the barley-grain diet shed higher (P<0.001) total and tetracycline-resistant (Tetr) E. coli in the backgrounding phase. Of the total E. coli examined (n=224), 70.3% showed resistance to one or more of the 14 antimicrobials examined, which increased to 82.3% by day 109. Among the recovered E. coli, 23 phenotypes and 154 pulsed field gel electrophoresis patterns grouped into 38 clusters indicative of extensive E. coli diversity in heifers. Although supplementation of 40% barley-grain was correlated to higher total E. coli shedding in the backgrounding phase, the backgrounding diets did not influence strain clustering. Strains collected during the transition phase clustered more closely than those collected during the backgrounding phase. This increased strain clustering with high concentrate inclusion in the transition diet was observed within 18 d of the transition phase. Our study indicated variations in E. coli shedding rates and strain clustering in relation to time and diet.