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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Food and Feed Safety Research » Research » Research Project #444000

Research Project: A Novel Probiotic to Increase Chicken Gut Integrity and Maturation at Early Life to Improve Health and Disease Resistance

Location: Food and Feed Safety Research

Project Number: 3091-32000-037-068-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 1, 2023
End Date: Jan 31, 2027

In commercial farms, young birds are highly susceptible to bacterial pathogens like Clostridium perfringens (necrotic enteritis) and avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC; colibacillosis). Due to antibiotic resistance, farmers need naturally-derived alternatives to improve livestock health and productivity without compromising the quality of poultry products. The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) plays a pivotal role in health, thus treatment strategies maximizing GIT maturity and integrity would highly-benefit poultry health and productivity. Segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) have recently emerged as keystone bacterial species that are crucial in shaping a healthy GIT in early life via triggering protective immune responses, which improves resistance to bacteria. Although all SFB experimental studies are limited to mice, SFB have been highly-associated with high-performing poultry. Because of SFB host-specificity and the particularities of the poultry immune system, studies are needed to evaluate its probiotic potential in chickens. Based on our multidisciplinary expertise and preliminary data on SFB spore preparation, in vitro culturing for SFB, and alteration of chicken gut pathways by SFB-treatment, we propose to evaluate how SFB drive chicken gut maturation and bacterial resistance in chickens.

Approach will be to 1) test inoculation and colonization in newly hatched chicks with pure SFB; 2) evaluate intestinal maturation and immunometabolic functional activation by SFB; 3) evaluate SFB-based probiotic effects on cecal microbiota diversity and function; and 4) evaluate immune modulation induced by SFB to increase resistance against intestinal (Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella) and extra-intestinal (APEC) bacterial pathogens.