Characterization of the eukaryotic microbial communities in the chicken ileum in cage-free and conventional commercial housing systems

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Anderson, C. J.
Altendorf, B. J.
Koltes, D. A.
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MicrobiologyAnimal Science
The current shift from conventional cage (CC) hen housing facilities towards cage-free (CF) hen housing in the egg industry has left many questions regarding how level of fecal exposure and exposure to other hens may influence the hen intestinal microbiota. In a previous publication we reported differences in the bacterial ileal communities and ileal morphology between hens in CC and CF production environments at a single commercial site. Here, we present the first 18S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing-based characterization of the eukaryotic ileal microbiota of adult layer hens, and their associations with intestinal health parameters and the bacterial microbiota. DNA was extracted from the ileal digesta of hens (n = 32 CC, n = 48 CF) using the Qiagen Powerlyzer Powersoil kit, followed by amplification of the V9 region of the 18S rRNA gene. Paired end sequencing was performed with the Illumina MiSeq platform, and the resulting reads were processed according to the Mothur MiSeq protocol in Mothur v1.43.0. De novo operational taxonomic unit (OTU) clustering was performed in mothur with a 99% similarity threshold, and OTUs were taxonomically classified with the SILVA SSU v138 reference database. OTUs classified as vertebrate, plant, or arthropod were removed, resulting in 3,136,400 high quality reads and 1,370 OTUs. Associations between OTUs and intestinal parameters were calculated using PROC GLIMMIX. PERMANOVA over Bray-Curtis distances revealed differences between CC and CF eukaryotic ileal microbiota at the whole community level, but no OTUs were differentially abundant after correcting for false discovery (P > 0.05; q > 0.1). Kazachstania and Saccharomyces, closely related genera of yeast, represented 77.1% and 9.7% of sequences respectively. Two Kazachstania OTUs and 1 Saccharomycetaceae OTU were positively correlated with intestinal permeability (r2 ≥ 0.35). Eimeria accounted for 7.6% of sequences across all samples. Intriguingly, 15 OTUs classified as Eimeria were inversely associated with intestinal permeability (r2 ≤ -0.35), suggesting Eimeria may play a more complex role in the microbiota of healthy birds than has been observed in disease challenges.
This article is published as Anderson, C. J., B. J. Altendorf, S. Schmitz-Esser, and D. A. Koltes. "Characterization of the eukaryotic microbial communities in the chicken ileum in cage-free and conventional commercial housing systems." Poultry Science 102 (2023): 102621. doi:10.1016/j.psj.2023.102621. Posted with permission.

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