Composition and Function of Chicken Gut Microbiota
Department of Immunology, Veterinary Research Institute, 621 00 Brno, Czech Republic
Received: 8 December 2019 / Revised: 31 December 2019 / Accepted: 3 January 2020 / Published: 8 January 2020
Chickens evolved for millions of years to be hatched in a nest in contact with an adult hen. However, current commercial production of chickens is based on hatching chicks in a clean hatchery environment in the absence of adult hens. The ancestors of domestic chickens inhabited a living environment different from that used for current commercial production. Currently, the lifespan of broilers is around 5 weeks, the lifespan of egg layers is around one year while chickens can live for 15–20 years. This means that studies on chicken–microbiota interactions are of specific importance. The intestinal tract of commercially hatched chicks is gradually colonised from environmental sources only, however, if the chicks are provided experimentally with microbiota from a hen they can be colonised by adult-type microbiota from the very first days of life and become resistant to infections with pathogenic Escherichia coli, Clostridium perfringens, or Salmonella. Because of such specificities in the interactions of chickens with their gut microbiota, current knowledge in this area is critically presented in this review.