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Intestinal microbiota associated with differential feed conversion efficiency in chickens
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Dragana StanleyDragana Stanley, S Denman, R Hughes, M Geier, T Crowley, H Chen, V Haring, R Moore
Analysis of model systems, for example in mice, has shown that the microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract can play an important role in the efficiency of energy extraction from diets. The study reported here aimed to determine whether there are correlations between gastrointestinal tract microbiota population structure and energy use in chickens. Efficiency in converting food into muscle mass has a significant impact on the intensive animal production industries, where feed represents the major portion of production costs. Despite extensive breeding and selection efforts, there are still large differences in the growth performance of animals fed identical diets and reared under the same conditions. Variability in growth performance presents management difficulties and causes economic loss. An understanding of possible microbiota drivers of these differences has potentially important benefits for industry. In this study, differences in cecal and jejunal microbiota between broiler chickens with extreme feed conversion capabilities were analysed in order to identify candidate bacteria that may influence growth performance. The jejunal microbiota was largely dominated by lactobacilli (over 99% of jejunal sequences) and showed no difference between the birds with high and low feed conversion ratios. The cecal microbial community displayed higher diversity, and 24 unclassified bacterial species were found to be significantly (<0.05) differentially abundant between high and low performing birds. Such differentially abundant bacteria represent target populations that could potentially be modified with prebiotics and probiotics in order to improve animal growth performance.