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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Animal Disease Center » Food Safety and Enteric Pathogens Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #192430


item Scupham, Alexandra

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/13/2006
Publication Date: 6/21/2006
Citation: Scupham, A.J. 2006. Microbial community changes in the intestine of the pre-adolescent turkey [abstract]. RRI-INRA Gut Microbiology 2006. 46(1):S29.

Interpretive Summary: Understanding the ecology of the microbiota of the gut has important animal health and food safety concerns. Issues such as what microbes colonize this habitat and how they interact with one another as well as interacting with the host are just beginning to be investigated. This work is the first description of gut community changes over the commercial lifetime of the turkey. Two trials separated in space and time (two different locations, two different years) investigated the development of the commensal microbiota of cohabiting animals over 18 weeks. Both bacterial and fungal species richness increased throughout the trials. It was found that prior to week 11 the communities were comprised primarily of Clostridia-like organisms, although the represented species were different between the two trials. In contrast, after week 11 the microbiota was dominated by Bacteroides-like microbes. As with the earlier timepoints, the composition of the species differed between the trials. At week 11, however, the communities of both trials were predominately Bacteroides uniformis, an anaerobic commensal of many animals including hogs and humans. The considerable transition in the flora at week 11 indicates an immature, unstable gut community prior to that timepoint which may be susceptible to colonization by opportunistic pathogens. Our results indicate B. uniformis may drive gut flora maturation and an understanding of the host/microbe interactions may provide tools for generating stable intestinal communities in young animals, thus protecting them from colonization by animal and food-borne pathogens.

Technical Abstract: Colonization of the intestine by opportunistic pathogens can be inhibited by the native flora but factors such as antibiotic use and age can disrupt the equilibrium, providing a susceptible environment. Thus, identifying periods of innate susceptibility in the poultry intestine is important for both animal health and food safety concerns. To monitor development of intestinal communities, cecal droppings from individual male broad-breasted turkeys (n=5 and 6 birds per trial) were sampled weekly (from day of hatch through 18 weeks of age). Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (ARISA) community profiles identified a continual increase in both bacterial and fungal species richness with a slight decrease during weeks 16-18. Sorensen’s analysis of the fingerprint data and MEGA 3.0 dendrograms describing community similarity identified a period of community transition at week 12 in the two trials. Bacterial libraries representing weeks 9, 11, 12 and 14 were sequenced. While both ARISA and LIBSHUFF analyses indicated a significant difference in the species represented in the two trials, a predominance of Clostridia-like species at week 9 was replaced by a predominance of Bacteroides-like species in weeks 11, 12 and 14. B. uniformis prevalence in week 11 libraries (85% and 65%) of both trials provides compelling evidence that it may act as a vanguard, preparing the gut environment for colonization by other Bacteroides species. The dynamics of intestinal communities in maturing poultry suggest a continuous susceptibility to colonization by pathogens, with a period of exceptional potential around week twelve. Bacteroides uniformis has been identified as a potentially important microbe associated with maturation of the intestinal community and protection from colonization by opportunistic pathogens.