The gastrointestinal tract microbiota of the Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica

Ngare Wilkinson, Robert J. Hughes, Willam J. Aspden, James Chapman, Robert J. Moore, Dragana Stanley

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) plays an essential role in the health and well-being of the host. With the exception of chickens, this area has been poorly studied within birds. The avian GIT harbours unique microbial communities. Birds require rapid energy bursts to enable energy-intensive flying. The passage time of feed through the avian GIT is only 2–3.5 h, and thus requires the presence of microbiota that is extremely efficient in energy extraction. This investigation has used high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing to explore the GIT microbiota of the flighted bird, the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). We are reporting, for the first time, the diversity of bacterial phylotypes inhabiting all major sections of the quail GIT including mouth, esophagus, crop, proventriculus, gizzard, duodenum, ileum, cecum, large intestine and feces. Nine phyla of bacteria were found in the quail GIT; however, their distribution varied significantly between GIT sections. Cecal microbiota was the most highly differentiated from all the other communities and showed highest richness at an OTU level but lowest richness at all other taxonomic levels being comprised of only 15 of total 57 families in the quail GIT. Differences were observed in the presence and absence of specific phylotypes between sexes in most sections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4201-4209
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Japanese quail
  • intestinal
  • microbiota
  • diversity

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