Conserved developmental trajectories of the cecal microbiota of broiler chickens in a field study

Jannigje G. Kers*, Francisca C. Velkers, Egil A.J. Fischer, J.A. Stegeman, Hauke Smidt, Gerben D.A. Hermes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


There is great interest in identifying gut microbiota development patterns and underlying assembly rules that can inform strategies to improve broiler health and performance. Microbiota stratification using community types helps to simplify complex and dynamic ecosystem principles of the intestinal microbiota. This study aimed to identify community types to increase insight in intestinal microbiota variation between broilers and to identify factors that explain this variation. A total of 10 well-performing poultry flocks on four farms were followed. From each flock, the cecal content of nine broilers was collected at 7, 14, and 35 days posthatch. A total of two robust community types were observed using different clustering methods, one of which was dominated by 7-day-old broilers, and one by 35-day-old broilers. Broilers, 14-day-old, were divided across both community types. This is the first study that showed conserved cecal microbiota development trajectories in commercial broiler flocks. In addition to the temporal development with age, the cecal microbiota variation between broilers was explained by the flock, body weight, and the different feed components. Our data support a conserved development of cecal microbiota, despite strong influence of environmental factors. Further investigation of mechanisms underlying microbiota development and function is required to facilitate intestinal health promoting management, diagnostics, and nutritional interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2022


  • 16S rRNA
  • gut
  • intestinal
  • microbial community
  • microbiome
  • poultry


Dive into the research topics of 'Conserved developmental trajectories of the cecal microbiota of broiler chickens in a field study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this