Genetic Variation among Broiler Genotypes in susceptibility to colibacillosis

B. Ask, E.H. van der Waaij, J.A. Stegeman, J.A.M. van Arendonk

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Selection for reduced susceptibility to colibacillosis in broilers may contribute to the prevention of colibacillosis. Such selection should focus on the responses to Escherichia coli rather than the associated primary agent(s). The purpose of the current study was to examine whether genetic variation is present in the susceptibility to colibacillosis. This was achieved through an evaluation of the susceptibility to primary colibacillosis in 5 pure broiler lines, a slow-growing line, and two 2-way crosses of the pure lines (altogether referred to as genotypes). A challenge experiment was executed in 2 trials. Per trial, 24 chicks per genotype were challenged and 20 chicks per genotype were controls. At 7 d of age, challenged chicks were intratracheally inoculated with 0.3 mL of E. coli O78K80 solution, and controls with 0.3 mL of PBS. All chicks were euthanized at 14 or 15 d. Traits measured were mortality, lesion scores (airsacculitis, pericarditis, and perihepatitis) at 14 or 15 d, and BW at 1, 4, 7, 10, 12, and 14 or 15 d. An effect of genotype on mortality, lesion prevalence, and growth retardation was found, indicating the presence of genetic variation in susceptibility to colibacillosis, and suggesting that selection for reduced susceptibility is possible. There were large between-genotype differences in mortality (up to 46%) and in lesion prevalence (up to 41%). Growth retardation was not observed for any genotype in chicks without lesions, whereas genotypes differed from none to 20% growth retardation for chicks with airsacculitis but no systemic lesions, and up to 13% for chicks with systemic lesions. The heterosis in susceptibility and growth retardation was found to be either negative or absent, indicating that crossbreeding would not be an advantage for the selection for reduced susceptibility, and that test crossing is essential
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-421
Number of pages7
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • infectious-bronchitis virus
  • escherichia-coli
  • antibody-response
  • immune-response
  • disease virus
  • body-weight
  • food-intake
  • chickens
  • growth
  • resistance


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