Clostridium perfringens-mediated necrotic enteritis is not influenced by the pre-existing microbiota but is promoted by large changes in the post-challenge microbiota

Jake Aidan Lacey, Dragana Stanley, Anthony L Keyburn, Mark Ford, Honglei Chen, Priscilla Johanesen, Dena Lyras, Robert J. Moore

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Problem addressed: Clostridium perfringens is the etiological agent of necrotic enteritis in chickens. As necrotic enteritis is a gastrointestinal disease, the interactions of pathogenic C. perfringens strains with the complex microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract may influence disease development and severity of disease. Objective: In this study the interactions of a pathogenic strain of C. perfringens, WER-NE36, with the microbiota of broilers was investigated to determine whether the pre-existing microbiota could influence disease outcomes in the necrotic enteritis challenge model. Methods and approach: Faecal microbiota compositions were measured before and after C. perfringens challenge and caecal microbiota was also characterised at necropsy. The microbiota profiles from individual birds were related back to the degree of necrotic enteritis that each bird developed. Results: Under the experimental conditions used the pre-existing microbiota did not have an effect on disease outcomes. However, C. perfringens challenge was shown to have a significant effect on the microbiota of broilers, regardless of disease status, by displacement of commensal clostridia. Conclusions: The microbiota signature after challenge resembled that of lower productivity birds, supporting the finding that physically obvious disease (necrotic lesions), as well as dysbiosis, are associated with shifts in gut microbiota and affect broiler performance, increasing costs to the poultry industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-126
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • 16S rRNA
  • Chicken
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Dysbiosis
  • Microbiota
  • Necrotic enteritis

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