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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2012 Feb;79(2):337-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2011.01220.x. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Distinct commensal bacteria associated with ingesta and mucosal epithelium in the gastrointestinal tracts of calves and chickens.

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Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.


The primary aim of this study was to determine whether distinct gastrointestinal tract (GIT) microbial communities are established within ingesta and on mucosal surfaces of dairy calves and chickens to evaluate whether the principle of microbial segregation is of broad biological significance. Multivariate analysis of the predominant bacterial PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profiles and estimated bacterial populations were compared in rumen, jejunum, ileum, cecum, and colon ingesta and matching mucosal tissues. Samples collected from 3-week old (n = 8) and 6-month old (n = 8) calves revealed that the predominant mucosa-associated bacteria were distinct from those inhabiting ingesta, and bacterial diversity varied significantly among the GIT regions. The estimated bacterial populations displayed significant regional differences for bovine mucosal (P = 0.05) and for ingesta (P = 0.03) only at 6 months of age. This indicates an established segregation of the enteric bacterial population throughout the GIT in weaned calves. Analysis of ileal and cecal bacterial profiles in chickens confirmed that the segregation of commensal bacteria between ingesta and the mucosal tissue was a common biological phenomenon. Our study provides some fundamental understanding of the impact of sample type (mucosa vs. ingesta), region, and host age on commensal bacterial establishment and segregation throughout the GIT.

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