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Open AccessReview

Composition and Function of Chicken Gut Microbiota

Department of Immunology, Veterinary Research Institute, 621 00 Brno, Czech Republic
Animals 2020, 10(1), 103;
Received: 8 December 2019 / Revised: 31 December 2019 / Accepted: 3 January 2020 / Published: 8 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gut microbiota and growth and health of monogastric farm animals)
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.
Studies analyzing the composition of gut microbiota are quite common at present, mainly due to the rapid development of DNA sequencing technologies within the last decade. This is valid also for chickens and their gut microbiota. However, chickens represent a specific model for host–microbiota interactions since contact between parents and offspring has been completely interrupted in domesticated chickens. Nearly all studies describe microbiota of chicks from hatcheries and these chickens are considered as references and controls. In reality, such chickens represent an extreme experimental group since control chicks should be, by nature, hatched in nests in contact with the parent hen. Not properly realising this fact and utilising only 16S rRNA sequencing results means that many conclusions are of questionable biological relevance. The specifics of chicken-related gut microbiota are therefore stressed in this review together with current knowledge of the biological role of selected microbiota members. These microbiota members are then evaluated for their intended use as a form of next-generation probiotics. View Full-Text
Keywords: chicken; gut microbiota; caecum; ileum; faecal; development; Bacteroidetes; Firmicutes chicken; gut microbiota; caecum; ileum; faecal; development; Bacteroidetes; Firmicutes
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Rychlik, I. Composition and Function of Chicken Gut Microbiota. Animals 2020, 10, 103.

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