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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory

Title: Marek’s Disease Virus Influences the Core Gut Microbiome of the Chicken During the Early and Late Phases of Viral Replication

item Perumbakkam, Sudeep -
item Hunt, Henry
item Cheng, Hans

Submitted to: BMC Microbiome
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 19, 2014
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Marek’s disease virus (MDV) is a very important pathogen in chickens that costs the worldwide poultry industry $1-2 billion annually. A greater understanding how the virus promotes T cell tumors should provide opportunities for improved disease control. In this submission, we investigate the role of MDV on gut microbes diversity as there is growing interest and information on how specific bacteria influence the host immune response. We find that MDV does alter the composition of gut microbes at specific time points after infection. This information provides a new area of research to explore, and may lead to improved methods for selecting more disease resistant chickens or enhancing their immune response through probiotics.

Technical Abstract: Background Marek’s disease (MD) is an important neoplastic disease of chickens caused by the Marek’ s disease virus (MDV), an oncogenic alphaherpesvirus. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract represents one of the primary sites for microbial colonization and exposure to pathogens. A greater understanding of environmental factors including the role of microbes on tumor formation could lead to additional or improved control methods for the future. In this study, dysbiosis associated by MDV on the core gut flora of chicken was assessed using next generation sequence (NGS) analysis. Results Total fecal and cecum-derived samples from individual birds were used to estimate the influence of MDV infection on the gut microbiome of chicken. The Ion Torrent platform was used to sequence barcoded PCR products amplified with16S rDNA-V6 primers resulting in 14,758 and 4,543 sequences for each fecal and cecal sample, respectively. Our analysis shows that MDV infection alters the core gut flora in the total fecal samples relatively early after infection (2-7 d) with differences in the abundance of phyla observed. Also in cecal samples, changes in phyla abundance were observed during the late (28-35 d) phase of viral infection. Principle component analyses of total fecal and cecal samples showed clustering at the early and late time points, respectively. The genus Lactobacillus was exclusively present in the infected samples in both total fecal and cecal bird samples. Conclusions The community colonization of core gut flora is altered by viral infection, which is manifested in the enrichment of few genera during the early and late phases of MDV replication. The results suggest a relationship between viral infection and microbial composition of the intestinal tract that may influence inflammation and immunosuppression of T and B cells in the host. Moreover, as the influence of MDV infection varies on the two gut locations measured, future efforts should focus on additional regions of the chicken GI tract.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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