Poultry production is a major agricultural output worldwide. It is known that the gut health of broilers is essential for their growth and for providing wholesome products for human consumption. Previously, the microbial diversity of broiler ceca was studied at the genetic level. However, the functional diversity and metabolic activity of broiler cecal bacterial communities are not fully investigated. Recently, the EcoPlates™ from Biolog, Inc. have been used for characterizing bacterial communities from various environments. In this study, we applied these plates to physiologically profile cecal bacterial communities in broilers. The ceca were aseptically excised from 6-week-old broilers, and their contents were suspended in phosphate buffered saline. The cultures in the EcoPlates™ were incubated at 42 °C for 5 days in an OmniLog® system. Responses of the bacterial communities to the various chemicals as carbon sources were measured on formazan production. The results show sigmoidal growth curves with three phases in all 12 cecal samples. Cecal bacterial communities could not use 11 carbon substrates for carbon sources; instead, they used pyruvic acid methyl ester, glycogen, glucose-1-phosphate and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine most frequently. Each bacterial community metabolized various numbers of the substrates at different rates among broilers. In the future, modification of the culture conditions to mimic the gut environment is needed. More investigations on the effects of nutrients, Salmonella or Campylobacter on physiological functions of cecal bacterial communities will provide insights into the improvement of animal well-being, saving production expenditures for producers and providing safer poultry products for human consumption.
Curr. Microbiol. (Current microbiology)
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