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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2014 Nov;360(2):100-12. doi: 10.1111/1574-6968.12608. Epub 2014 Oct 13.

The chicken gastrointestinal microbiome.

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Poultry Microbiological Safety Research Unit, Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Athens, GA, USA; College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA, USA.


The domestic chicken is a common model organism for human biological research and of course also forms the basis of a global protein industry. Recent methodological advances have spurred the recognition of microbiomes as complex communities with important influences on the health and disease status of the host. In this minireview, we provide an overview of the current state of knowledge of the chicken gastrointestinal microbiome focusing on spatial and temporal variability, the presence and importance of human pathogens, the influence of the microbiota on the immune system, and the importance of the microbiome for poultry nutrition. Review and meta-analysis of public data showed cecal communities dominated by Firmicutes and Bacteroides at the phylum level, while at finer levels of taxonomic resolution, a phylogenetically diverse assemblage of microorganisms appears to have similar metabolic functions that provide important benefits to the host as inferred from metagenomic data. This observation of functional redundancy may have important implications for management of the microbiome. We foresee advances in strategies to improve gut health in commercial operations through management of the intestinal microbiota as an alternative to in-feed subtherapeutic antibiotics, improvements in pre- and probiotics, improved management of polymicrobial poultry diseases, and better control of human pathogens via colonization reduction or competitive exclusion strategies.


16S rRNA; food safety; metagenomics; microbiome; poultry

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