Sorghum and wheat differentially affect caecal microbiota and associated performance characteristics of meat chickens

Eduardo Crisol-Martínez, Dragana Stanley, Mark S Geier, Robert J. Hughes, Robert J. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This study compared the effects of wheat-and sorghum-based diets on broiler chickens. The growth performance and caecal microbial community of chickens were measured and correlations between productivity and specific gut microbes were observed. Cobb broilers 15 days of age were individually caged and two dietary treatments were used, one with a wheat-based diet (n D 48) and another one with a sorghum-based diet (n D 48). Growth performance measurements were taken over a 10 day period and samples for microbiota analysis were taken at the end of that period. Caecal microbiota was characterised by sequencing of 16S bacterial rRNA gene amplicons. Overall, the results indicated that a sorghum-based diet produced higher apparent metabolisable energy (AME) and body-weight gain (BWG) values in chickens, compared to a wheatbased diet. Nevertheless, sorghum-fed birds had higher feed conversion ratio (FCR) values than wheat-fed birds, possibly because of some anti-nutritional factors in sorghum. Further analyses showed that caecal microbial community was significantly associated with AME values, but microbiota composition differed between dietary treatments. A number of bacteria were individually correlated with growth performance measurements. Numerous OTUs assigned to strains of Lactobacillus crispatus and Lachnospiraceae, which were prevalent in sorghum-fed chickens, were correlated with high AME and BWG values, respectively. Additionally, a number of OTUs assigned to Clostridiales that were prevalent in wheat-fed chickens were correlated with low FCR values. Overall, these results suggest that between-diet variations in growth performance were partly associated with changes in the caecal microbiota.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3071
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2017


  • Caecum
  • Chicken
  • Diet
  • Digestive efficiency
  • Energy assimilation
  • Feed conversion
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Microbiota
  • Sorghum
  • Wheat

Cite this