Modulations of the chicken cecal microbiome and metagenome in response to anticoccidial and growth promoter treatment

Jessica L. Danzeisen, Hyeun Bum Kim, Richard E. Isaacson, Zheng Jin Tu, Timothy J. Johnson

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266 Scopus citations


With increasing pressures to reduce or eliminate the use of antimicrobials for growth promotion purposes in production animals, there is a growing need to better understand the effects elicited by these agents in order to identify alternative approaches that might be used to maintain animal health. Antibiotic usage at subtherapeutic levels is postulated to confer a number of modulations in the microbes within the gut that ultimately result in growth promotion and reduced occurrence of disease. This study examined the effects of the coccidiostat monensin and the growth promoters virginiamycin and tylosin on the broiler chicken cecal microbiome and metagenome. Using a longitudinal design, cecal contents of commercial chickens were extracted and examined using 16S rRNA and total DNA shotgun metagenomic pyrosequencing. A number of genus-level enrichments and depletions were observed in response to monensin alone, or monensin in combination with virginiamycin or tylosin. Of note, monensin effects included depletions of Roseburia, Lactobacillus and Enterococcus, and enrichments in Coprococcus and Anaerofilum. The most notable effect observed in the monensin/virginiamycin and monensin/tylosin treatments, but not in the monensin-alone treatments, was enrichments in Escherichia coli. Analysis of the metagenomic dataset identified enrichments in transport system genes, type I fimbrial genes, and type IV conjugative secretion system genes. No significant differences were observed with regard to antimicrobial resistance gene counts. Overall, this study provides a more comprehensive glimpse of the chicken cecum microbial community, the modulations of this community in response to growth promoters, and targets for future efforts to mimic these effects using alternative approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere27949
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 16 2011


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