Effects of mushroom and herb polysaccharides, as alternative for an antibiotic, on the cecal microbial ecosystem in broiler chickens

F. Guo, B.A. Williams, R.P. Kwakkel, H.S. Li, X.P. Li, J.Y. Luo, W.K. Li, M.W.A. Verstegen

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156 Citations (Scopus)


An in vivo experiment was conducted to study the potential prebiotic effects of mushroom and herb polysaccharide extracts, Lentinus edodes extract (LenE), Tremella fuciformis extract, and Astragalus membranaceus Radix extract, on chicken growth and the cecal microbial ecosystem, as compared with the antibiotic Apramycin (APR). This investigation was carried out in terms of a dose-response study. The chickens were naturally infected with avian Mycoplasma gallisepticum prior to the experiment. The BW gain, cecal pH, viscosity, and predominant microbial populations were measured I wk after the extract and APR treatments. The extracts and APR significantly stimulated growth of the chickens infected with avian Mycoplasma gallisepticum. The average BW gain of the groups fed with the extracts was significantly lower than that of the antibiotic group. The extracts had no significant effect on cecal pH. However, cecal viscosity and microbial populations were significantly affected by feeding extracts and antibiotic. In contrast to APR, the extracts stimulated the number of the potentially beneficial bacteria (bifidobacteria and lactobacilli), while reducing the number of the potentially harmful bacteria (Bacteroides spp. and Escherichia coli). Of the 3 extracts, LenE was associated with the most cecal bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. With each increase in the LenE dose, birds tended to have higher BW gain and total aerobe and anaerobe counts. Numbers of predominant cecal bacteria, in particular, E. coli, bifidobacteria, and lactobacilli, were significantly increased with increases in the LenE dose. It would seem that these specific mushroom and herb polysaccharide extracts hold some promise as potential modifiers of intestinal microbiota in diseased chickens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • nonstarch polysaccharides
  • anaerobic bacteria
  • human-colon
  • fermentation
  • oligosaccharides
  • prebiotics
  • intestine
  • growth
  • health
  • diets

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