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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Digestive Physiology and the Role of Microorganisms

Authors
item Tellez, G - UNIV OF ARKANSAS
item Higgins, S - UNIV OF ARKANSAS
item Donoghue, Ann
item Hargis, B - UNIV OF ARKANSAS

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2005
Publication Date: March 1, 2006
Citation: Tellez, G., Higgins, S., Donoghue, A.M., Hargis, B. 2006. Digestive physiology and the role of microorganisms. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 15:136-144.

Interpretive Summary: The gastrointestinal tract contains within it a microenvironment of bacteria that influence the host animal in many ways. The microflora can metabolize several nutrients that the host can not digest and converts these to end products (such as short chain fatty acids), a process which has a direct impact on digestive physiology. The microbiota directs the assembly of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, helps educate the immune system, affects the integrity of the intestinal mucosal barrier, modulates proliferation and differentiation of its epithelial lineages, regulates angiogenesis, modifies the activity of the enteric nervous system, and plays a key role in extracting and processing nutrients consumed in the diet. Despite these important effects, the mechanisms by which the gut microbial community influences host biology remain almost entirely unknown. Recent molecular-based investigations have confirmed the species diversity and metabolic complexity of gut microflora, though there is much work to be done in order to understand how they relate to each other as well as the host animal. It is almost a century ago that Eli Metchnikoff proposed the revolutionary idea to consume viable bacteria to promote health. Since that time, the area known as ‘probiotics’ has made dramatic progress, particularly during the past two decades. The last 20 years have also seen the emergence of a new, related area of study –‘prebiotics’. Utilization of these two ideas – providing live non-pathogenic bacteria as well as substrates for their growth – have potential to help optimize the health of animals by manipulating the gastrointestinal tract in positive ways.

Technical Abstract: The gastrointestinal tract contains within it a microenvironment of bacteria that influence the host animal in many ways. The microflora can metabolize several nutrients that the host can not digest and converts these to end products (such as short chain fatty acids), a process which has a direct impact on digestive physiology. The microbiota directs the assembly of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, helps educate the immune system, affects the integrity of the intestinal mucosal barrier, modulates proliferation and differentiation of its epithelial lineages, regulates angiogenesis, modifies the activity of the enteric nervous system, and plays a key role in extracting and processing nutrients consumed in the diet. Despite these important effects, the mechanisms by which the gut microbial community influences host biology remain almost entirely unknown. Recent molecular-based investigations have confirmed the species diversity and metabolic complexity of gut microflora, though there is much work to be done in order to understand how they relate to each other as well as the host animal. It is almost a century ago that Eli Metchnikoff proposed the revolutionary idea to consume viable bacteria to promote health. Since that time, the area known as 'probiotics' has made dramatic progress, particularly during the past two decades. The last 20 years have also seen the emergence of a new, related area of study –'prebiotics'. Utilization of these two ideas – providing live non-pathogenic bacteria as well as substrates for their growth – have potential to help optimize the health of animals by manipulating the gastrointestinal tract in positive ways.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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