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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 - Purdue University
item Hunt, Henry
item Cheng, Hans

Submitted to: FEMS Microbiology Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/19/2014
Publication Date: 8/25/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Perumbakkam, S., Hunt, H.D., Cheng, H.H. 2014. Marek’s Disease Virus influences the core gut microbiome of the chicken during the early and late phases of viral replication. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 90(1):300-312. doi: 10.1111/1574-6941.12392.

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: Marek’s disease (MD) is an important neoplastic disease of chickens caused by the Marek’s disease virus (MDV), an oncogenic alphaherpesvirus. In this study, dysbiosis induced by MDV on the core gut flora of chicken was assessed using next generation sequence (NGS) analysis. Total fecal and cecum-derived samples from individual birds were used to estimate the influence of MDV infection on the gut microbiome of chicken. Our analysis shows that MDV infection alters the core gut flora in the total fecal samples relatively early after infection (2–7 days) and in the late phase of viral infection (28–35 days) in cecal samples, corresponding well with the life cycle of MDV. 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. The community colonization of core gut flora was altered by viral infection, which manifested in the enrichment of several 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.