Abstract

Intestinal microbiota is an important component in the development of defense mechanisms in the gut mucosa. This project determined the dynamics of intestinal microbial communities (MC) of broilers vaccinated at first day of age with live oocysts of Eimeria species and fed diets supplemented with 2 specific essential oil (EO) blends, Crina Poultry (CP) and Crina Alternate (CA). Five treatments were analyzed: 1) unmedicated-uninfected (UU) control; 2) unmedicated-infected (UI) control; 3) vaccinated with Advent cocci-vaccine and without feed additive (COV) supplements; 4) vaccinated with Advent and supplemented with CP; and 5) vaccinated with Advent and supplemented with CA. The EO blends were added at 100 ppm to the same basal diets. Chicks were gavage-infected at 19 d of age with Eimeria acervulina, Eimeria maxima, and Eimeria tenella. Duodenal, ileal, and cecal samples were taken from 12 birds per treatment just before the infection and 7 d after the challenge, pooled in 6 samples, and frozen. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis was used to examine PCR-amplified fragments of the bacterial 16S ribosomal DNA variable region. Results are presented as percentages of similarity coefficients (SC). Dendrograms of amplicon patterns indicated MC differences due to intestinal location, feed additives, and cocci infection. The EO blends CP and CA did affect MC in all gut sections. The cocci-infection caused drastic MC population shifts in duodenal, ileal, and cecal sections (36.7, 55.4, and 36.2% SC, respectively). The CP-supplemented birds had higher SC between pre- and postchallenge MC in duodenal and ileal (73.3, 81.8%) than COV (66.4, 66.5%). However, COV broilers had the smallest changes in cecal MC after infection (79.5% SC). We concluded that cocci-vaccination causes small changes in intestinal MC, but challenge causes drastic shifts. The EO blend supplementation modulates MC in cocci-vaccinated broilers, avoiding drastic shifts after a mixed coccidia infection. Correlations between MC dynamics and host responses are discussed.