Scientists Investigate Probiotic Use in
Poultry, Develop New Tests By
Service scientists in Fayetteville, Ark., have found several promising
intestinal bacteria that could protect live chickens from Salmonella,
Campylobacter and other pathogens that cause foodborne illness in people
who eat poultry.
To prevent contamination of the meat, it's important to prevent
the pathogens from taking hold inside the intestinal tracts of the live birds.
ARS scientists are getting a better understanding of how live beneficial
bacteria, called probiotics, influence the gut's microbial environment and
interact with other bacteria. Probiotics contribute to the intestinal tract's
health and balance. They are given orally to poultry to help the birds fight
illness and disease.
Annie Donoghue, a poultry physiologist at ARS'
Poultry Production and Product Safety
Research Unit in Fayetteville, is leading a team of ARS and
University of Arkansas researchers in
finding new, healthful bacteria that, when fed to live birds, help them resist
harmful pathogens and grow more efficiently.
Using a concept known as competitive exclusion, probiotics are
fed to newly hatched poults. Once inside, the probiotics occupy sites in the
young bird's intestinal tract where the pathogens would normally attach and
grow. Since probiotics get there first, they reduce the opportunity for
pathogenic bacteria to become established in newly hatched poults when they are
most susceptible to infection.
The team has already screened more than 4 million intestinal
isolates to come up with several promising probiotic combinations. The
University of Arkansas and ARS have filed a patent on the selection
By using preselected "good" microbes, the researchers hope to
produce inexpensive, identified bacterial cultures with the ability to reduce
or exclude specific pathogens and enhance enteric health in poultry. They have
developed multiple in vitro selection systems for identifying potential
These new selection techniques make probiotics production less
expensive. This could lower the price of poultry and make it less likely to be
a source of foodborne illness.
about this research in the January 2004 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.