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Transition Of Microbiota In Chicken Cecal Droppings From Commercial Broiler Farms

Nachiko Takeshita, Takayasu Watanabe, Kasumi Ishida-Kuroki, Tsutomu Sekizaki

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Abstract Background Chickens are major sources of human nutrition worldwide, but the chicken intestinal microbiota can be a source of bacterial infection. The microbiota has potential to regulate the colonization of pathogens by competitive exclusion, production of antimicrobial compounds, and stimulation of the mucosal immune system. But information on the microbiota in commercial broiler chickens is limited because of the difficulty of conducting studies at commercial farms. To obtain fundamental information that can be used to control pathogens in chickens, we determined the 6-week dynamics of microbiota in chicken cecal droppings from commercial broiler farms. Results Cecal droppings from four chickens were collected once a week from 1 to 6 weeks of age at three commercial broiler farms. A total of 168 samples were collected from 7 flocks and subjected to 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. Despite the farms have distinctly different climate conditions, the microbiota in the same growth stages were similar among farms. Moreover, as the chickens grew and the feed types were switched, the richness and diversity of the microbiota gradually increased and convergence of the composition of the microbiota was apparent. Notably, minor bacterial taxa (i.e. OTUs with relative abundance < 0.05%) within the microbiota were changed by the chicken age, switching of feed types, and presence of Campylobacter. In particular, the effects of switching of feed types on the microbiota were larger than the effects of age and Campylobacter. Conclusions Irrespective of the locations of the farms, the microbiota of chicken cecum, especially minor bacteria, was successively changed more affected by feed types than by ages. Switching of feed types inducing the alteration of the microbiota may be associated with the colonization of pathogens in the chicken gut. These results will also help with extrapolation of studies in experimental animals to those in the commercial farms.