The microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract is a complex community of many different species of microorganisms, dominated by bacteria. This diverse population provides the host with an extensive array of enzymes and substrates which, together with the host s metabolic capabilities, provides an extensive metabolome available for nutrient and energy collection. We investigated broiler chickens to determine whether the abundance of certain members of the microbiota was correlated with the relative ability to extract energy from a typical wheat soybean diet. A number of mostly uncultured phylotypes were identified that significantly differed in abundance between birds with high apparent metabolizable energy (AME), measured as the difference between energy consumed and energy excreted, and those with low AME. Among the phylotypes that were more prevalent in birds with high energy efficiency, most were closely associated with isolates of bacterial groups that are commonly recognized as producing enzymes that degrade cellulose and/or resistant starch. Phylotypes that were negatively correlated with performance were all unknown and uncultured, a significant number belonging to an unknown class of Firmicutes. The identification of bacterial phylotypes correlated with the efficiency of energy use opens up the possibility of harnessing these bacteria for the manipulation of the host s ability to utilize energy. Increasing the ability to convert food to body weight is of interest to the agricultural industries, while the opposite is applicable in weight management and obesity control in humans.
Stanley, D., Geier, M. S., Denman, S. E., Haring, V., Crowley, T. M., Hughes, R. J., & Moore, R. J. (2013). Identification of chicken intestinal microbiota correlated with the efficiency of energy extraction from feed. Veterinary Microbiology, 164(1-2), 85 - 92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2013.01.030