Selenium nanoparticles in poultry feed modify gut microbiota and increase abundance of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii

Sheeana Gangadoo, Ivan Dinev, James Chapman, Robert J. Hughes, Thi Thu Hao Van, Robert J. Moore, Dragana Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


The poultry industry aims to improve productivity while maintaining the health and welfare of flocks. Pathogen control has been achieved through biosecurity, vaccinations and the use of antibiotics. However, the emergence of antibiotic resistance, in animal and human pathogens, has prompted researchers and chicken growers alike to seek alternative approaches. The use of new and emerging approaches to combat pathogen activity including nanotechnology, in particular, silver nanoparticles (NPs), has been found to not only eradicate pathogenic bacteria but also include issues of toxicity and bioaccumulation effects. Other novel metal nanoparticles could provide this pathogen reducing property with a more tailored and biocompatible nanomaterial for the model used, something our study represents. This study investigated the benefits of nanomaterial delivery mechanisms coupled with important health constituents using selenium as a biocompatible metal to minimise toxicity properties. Selenium NPs were compared to two common forms of bulk selenium macronutrients already used in the poultry industry. An intermediate concentration of selenium nanoparticles (0.9 mg/kg) demonstrated the best performance, improving the gut health by increasing the abundance of beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Faecalibacterium, and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), in particular butyric acid. SCFAs are metabolites produced by the intestinal tract and are used as an energy source for colonic cells and other important bodily functions. Selenium nanoparticles had no significant effect on live weight gain or abundance of potentially pathogenic bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1455-1466
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Faecalibacterium prausnitzii
  • Intestinal microbiota
  • Nanoparticles
  • Selenium

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