Succession of the turkey gastrointestinal bacterial microbiome related to weight gain

Jessica L. Danzeisen, Alamanda J. Calvert, Sally L. Noll, Brian McComb, Julie S. Sherwood, Catherine M. Logue, Timothy J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Because of concerns related to the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, antibioticfree alternatives are greatly needed to prevent disease and promote animal growth. One of the current challenges facing commercial turkey production in Minnesota is difficulty obtaining flock average weights typical of the industry standard, and this condition has been coined "Light Turkey Syndrome" or LTS. This condition has been identified inMinnesota turkey flocks for at least five years, and it has been observed that average flock body weights never approach their genetic potential. However, a single causative agent responsible for these weight reductions has not been identified despite numerous efforts to do so. The purpose of this study was to identify the bacterial community composition within the small intestines of heavy and light turkey flocks using 16S rRNA sequencing, and to identify possible correlations between microbiome and average flock weight. This study also sought to define the temporal succession of bacteria occurring in the turkey ileum. Based upon 2.7 million sequences across nine different turkey flocks, dominant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were identified and compared between the flocks studied. OTUs that were associated with heavier weight flocks included those with similarity to Candidatus division Arthromitus and Clostridium bartlettii, while these flocks had decreased counts of several Lactobacillus species compared to lighter weight flocks. The core bacterial microbiome succession in commercial turkeys was also defined. Several defining markers of microbiome succession were identified, including the presence or abundance of Candidatus division Arthromitus, Lactobacillus aviarius, Lactobacillus ingluviei, Lactobacillus salivarius, and Clostridium bartlettii. Overall, the succession of the ileum bacterial microbiome in commercial turkeys proceeds in a predictable manner. Efforts to prevent disease and promote growth in the absence of antibiotics could involve target dominant bacteria identified in the turkey ileum that are associated with increased weight gain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number237
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • 16S
  • Bacteria
  • Candidatus Arthromitus
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Lactobacillus
  • Microbiome
  • Poultry
  • Segmented filamentous bacteria
  • Succession
  • Turkeys


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