Oregano: A potential prophylactic treatment for the intestinal microbiota

Benjamin W. Bauer, Anita Radovanovic, Nicky Lee Willson, Yadav Sharma Bajagai, Thi Thu Hao Van, Robert J. Moore, Dragana Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Prophylactic use of antibiotics in poultry diets has been identified as a problematic practice because of its potential to exacerbate the spread of antibiotic resistance to human pathogens. A range of countries have opted to completely ban the use of antibiotics in animal feed. The animal production industries are looking for alternative ways to effectively control pathogens while providing the performance benefits previously secured by antibiotics in feed. Here, we present evidence that oregano (Origanum vulgare) could be a potential alternative for pathogen control in the poultry industry. Broiler diets were supplemented with oregano powder (0%, 0.5%, 1%, and 2%) for six weeks. The capacity for pathogen control was estimated by microbiota profiling of the jejunum, ileum, and caecum content, and in the faeces, by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The concentrations of short-chain fatty acids in the caecal content were also measured, as were villus/crypt parameters in the ileum. There were no differences among treatments in weight gain, feed intake, or the concentration of short-chain fatty acids. The height, width, and the surface area of villi in the ileum were not influenced by oregano addition. However, 1% and 2% of oregano produced a significant increase in the villus height to crypt depth ratio. There were no visible histopathological changes in the liver in control and treated groups. Although oregano had no significant effect on overall microbial diversity and gross composition, some specific genera, like Proteus, Klebsiella and Staphylococcus, which include known pathogens, were reduced in relative abundance by oregano treatment. Bifidobacterium, recognized as a beneficial and probiotic genus, was also suppressed by the oregano treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02625
Number of pages11
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal science
  • Antibiotic alternative
  • Chicken
  • Food microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Microbiology
  • Microbiota
  • Oregano
  • Public health

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