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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Food and Feed Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #353448

Research Project: Identification of the Ecological Niches and Development of Intervention Strategies to Reduce Pathogenic Foodborne Pathogens in Poultry

Location: Food and Feed Safety Research

Title: The role of the gut microbiome in shaping the immune system of chickens

item BROOM, LEON - University Of Leeds
item Kogut, Michael - Mike

Submitted to: Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2018
Publication Date: 10/12/2018
Citation: Broom, L.J., Kogut, M.H. 2018. The role of the gut microbiome in shaping the immune system of chickens. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology. 204:44-51.

Interpretive Summary: The development of the immune response in chicks is controlled by the animal's gut. This is because the gut is exposed to not only nutrients, but also many germs that can make the chick sick. What has been discovered over the last 20 years is that bacteria that do not cause disease, but normally grow in the gut, can work together to make animals' immune systems work better and prevent bad germs from growing. The work reported on here shows that changes in the bacteria that grow in the gut of chicks can affect the overall health of the chick by impacting the way nutrients are broken down and used by the body. These negative effects on nutrient breakdown prevent the normal growth of the chick and result in poor growth and reduced egg and meat production. This paper will be beneficial to chicken growers, microbiologists, and nutritionists and will help make better animal feeds that encourage the growth of normal bacteria in the gut.

Technical Abstract: Most animals are colonized by at least as many microbial cells as somatic cells, comprising at least 100 times more genes within just the gut microbiota than the host itself. It is, therefore, evident that such a conglomeration can have a profound effect on various bodily systems, particularly the (gut) immune system. Chickens are major providers of efficiently produced protein for humans but also harbor common foodborne pathogens and are susceptible to significant and costly diseases, making a thorough understanding of the influence of the gut microbiome on the immune system very pertinent. Major colonization of the chicken intestine occurs after hatch and this, along with subsequent microbiota composition and activity, are influenced by numerous host and environmental factors, such that each individual has a unique microbiome signature. However, both extreme (e.g. germ free) and more subtle (e.g. diet changes) microbiome modifications can profoundly impact the development of the gut immune system, particularly adaptive immune apparatus and function. This review will consider the influence of the chicken gut microbiome on immune system development, the implications of this relationship in terms of disease susceptibility, vaccine response, optimal health and productivity, and thus exogenous approaches to positively shape microbiome-immune system interactions.