Spatial and temporal variation of the intestinal bacterial community in commercially raised broiler chickens during growth

Microb Ecol. 2002 Oct;44(3):286-93. doi: 10.1007/s00248-002-2015-y. Epub 2002 Sep 12.


The objective of this study was to determine whether host, compartment, or environmental specific factors play an important role in the establishment of the intestinal microflora in broiler chickens during growth. This objective was addressed using a 16S rDNA approach. PCR-amplicons from the V6 to V8 regions of the 16S rDNA of intestinal samples were separated by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). The number of bands in all intestinal compartments increased when broilers grew older, indicating that the dominant bacterial community becomes more complex when chickens age. Each chicken had a unique banding pattern for all locations in the intestinal tract, irrespective of the age of chickens. This suggests that host-related factors affect the establishment of the dominant bacterial community. Banding patterns of intestinal compartments within one chicken were different from each other for broilers older than 4 days, except for both ceca which were highly similar. In 4-day-old broilers, banding patterns from crop, duodenum, and ileum were very similar. We conclude that (unknown) host specific factors play an important role in the development of the intestinal bacterial community in each broiler chicken. Furthermore, compartment-specific factors play an important role in the bacterial development of each intestinal compartment within one chicken.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Chickens / growth & development
  • Chickens / microbiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Genetic Variation
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • Time Factors


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S