Reduced environmental bacterial load during early development and gut colonisation has detrimental health consequences in Japanese quail

Ngare Wilkinson, Robert J. Hughes, Yadav Sharma Bajagai, William J. Aspden, Thi Thu Hao Van, Robert J. Moore, Dragana Stanley

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Gastrointestinal colonisation by commensal microbiota is essential for the health and well-being of the host. We aimed to evaluate the influence of a reduced bacterial load environment on microbiota development and maturation, and the possibility of targeted colonisation via at-hatch administration of a selected bacterial strain. Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) were inoculated within 1 h of hatch with a freshly grown culture of a Lactobacillus agilis isolate derived from a healthy adult quail. Hatchlings were kept in a mouse isolator for one week and then housed between one and four weeks of age, with a flock of normally grown adult quail to expose the bacteria-restricted birds to normal commensal quail bacteria. The bacterial isolate used to inoculate the birds was found to completely dominate the microbiota of the intestine of L.agilis at-hatch inoculated birds. Despite 3 weeks of co-housing of the test birds with an adult flock harbouring normal rich gut microbiota, neither the Lactobacillus inoculated nor PBS inoculated birds reached the level of bacterial diversity seen in birds raised under normal conditions. Neither PBS nor Lactobacillus inoculated birds were able to adopt normal quail microbiota after one week of restricted exposure to bacteria, indicating that contact with diverse microbiota during the early days of gut development in birds is critical for the establishment of healthy intestinal community. Very early intervention in the form of a suitable bacterial probiotic inoculant immediately post-hatch protected birds grown in extreme hygiene conditions from developing anomalous gut microbiota and intestinal damage. Our data shows that it is possible to induce dominance of desired strain using simple timed manipulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03213
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal science
  • Biotechnology
  • Excessive hygiene
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Infectious disease
  • Microbiology
  • Microbiota manipulation
  • Probiotic administration

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