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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Research Project #442734

Research Project: Microbiome Transplantation as a Novel Approach to Prevent Climate Change Mediated Susceptibility to Foodborne Pathogen Carriage in Poultry

Location: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research

Project Number: 6022-32420-001-023-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2022
End Date: Aug 31, 2025

1. Determine the engraftment stability of the donor chicken or Japanese quail microbiome in recipient chicks. 2. Identify the impact of different levels of heat and cold stress on stress-related neurochemical production in the gut of chicks following microbiota transplantation. 3. Determine the efficacy of early life microbiota transplantation to protect chickens from foodborne pathogen colonization following heat or cold stress challenge.

The development of antibiotic alternatives to reduce foodborne pathogens in poultry production is a central area of research at the USDA-ARS and the University of Arkansas in which the synergized efforts can maximize research output. Of particular interest is the fact that climate change induced weather extremes will result in unseasonably hot and cold periods that will greatly exacerbate the global food safety issue of poultry intestinal carriage of foodborne pathogens. Recent studies have shown heat and cold stressors increase poultry susceptibility to intestinal pathogen colonization but these findings are largely descriptive and without a defined mechanism, leaving the U.S. poultry industry without a clear approach to counter the impact of climate change on poultry foodborne pathogen carriage. Research from our laboratory has shown that environmental temperature-based stress results in the production of “fight-or-flight” neurochemicals in the avian gut which directly impact the composition and functionality of the microbiome creating a susceptible or resilient microbial signature that may predict foodborne pathogen colonization in later life. Critically, to date no investigation has offered a solution for the U.S. poultry industry that is aimed directly at a major mechanism in the poultry gut responsible for heat/cold stress induced susceptibility to foodborne pathogen colonization in chickens. Early life microbiota transplantation would meet the urgent U.S. poultry industry need to halt the impact of a changing climate on foodborne pathogen carriage in antibiotic-free poultry production. We will investigate how chicks can be protected at hatch through the litter application of gut microbiota collected from stress-resilient chickens that have undergone heat or cold stress. To achieve our goal we will utilize a series of cutting-edge analytical techniques including ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography to quantitatively assess neurochemical changes in the gut as a consequence of stress, 2-D protein gel electrophoresis to detect protein surface changes in Salmonella and Campylobacter that have been exposed to stress neurochemicals in concentrations found in the gut, tandem mass spectrometry to determine relevant proteomic changes, and Ussing chamber to assess how neurochemical physiologically induced Salmonella and Campylobacter change their ability to invade gut tissues. We will also apply these same techniques to the quantification of neurochemical substrates in microbiota transplant products and examine how these substrates may protect against Salmonella and Campylobacter. It is anticipated that the mechanisms governing the ability for neurochemicals and neurochemical substrates will demonstrate a viable pathway using early life microbiota transplantation to address climate change-induced stress susceptibility to foodborne pathogen colonization in chickens, thereby providing significant value to the poultry industry.