The role of the commensal gut microbial community in broiler chickens

Y. Lan, M.W.A. Verstegen, S. Tamminga, B.A. Williams, G. Erdi, H. Boer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


To understand the relationship between the gastrointestinal inhabiting microbial community and broiler health, a literature review is presented. The available information on the development of gut microbial community, the relationship between commensal microflora and digestive function, the role of gut microorganisms on competitive exclusion of chickens against pathogens, and modulation of the gut microbial community by addition of prebiotics to the diet is summarized. Gut dominant microbial communities become more complex as broilers grow older. The establishment of the dominant bacterial community is affected by dietary and host-related factors. Dietary prebiotics can modulate bacterial community shift towards non-harmful bacteria, which is beneficial for the health of broiler chickens. Gut commensal microorganisms play an important role in the prevention of colonization by pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract of chickens, a process known as competitive exclusion. In conclusion, the dilemma caused by the forthcoming ban of antibiotics feed additives and need to maintain the intestinal health of broiler chickens, has produced an enormous interest in finding alternatives. Modulating the intestinal microbial community in a healthy direction, by dietary ingredients such as prebiotics, could be a good solution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalWorlds Poultry Science Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • chain fatty-acids
  • competitive-exclusion
  • intestinal microflora
  • germ-free
  • conventional chicks
  • salmonella colonization
  • phylogenetic analysis
  • campylobacter-jejuni
  • bacterial community
  • cell proliferation

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