Taxonomic and gene-centric metagenomics of the fecal microbiome of low and high feed conversion ratio (FCR) broilers

J Appl Genet. 2014 Feb;55(1):145-54. doi: 10.1007/s13353-013-0179-4. Epub 2013 Oct 18.


Individual weight gain in broiler growers appears to vary, which may in part be due to variation in their gut microbiota. In this paper we analyse the fecal microbiota of low and high feed conversion ratio (FCR) broilers. After shotgun sequencing of the fecal microbiome, we used the SEED database to identify the microbial diversity and metabolic potential in low and high FCR birds. The domain-level breakdown of our samples was bacteria (>95 %), eukaryotes (>2 %), archaea (>0.2 %), and viruses (>0.2 %). At the phylum level, Proteobacteria (78.83 % in low and 52.04 % in high FCR), Firmicutes (11.97 % in low and 27.53 % in high FCR) and Bacteroidetes (7.10 % in low FCR and 17.53 % in high FCR) predominated in the fecal microbial community. Poultry fecal metagenomes revealed the sequences related to 33 genera in both low and high FCR with significantly different proportion. Functional analysis revealed that genes for the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids and derivatives and protein metabolism were most abundant in SEED subsystem in both samples. Genes associated with stress, virulence, cell wall and cell capsule were also abundant. Indeed, genes associated with sulphur assimilation, flagellum and flagellar motility were over represented in low FCR birds. This information could help in developing strategies to improve feed efficiency and feed formulation for broiler chickens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Chickens / growth & development
  • Chickens / microbiology*
  • DNA, Ribosomal / chemistry
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Male
  • Metagenome*
  • Metagenomics
  • Microbiota*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Weight Gain


  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S