Untangling the cecal microbiota of feral chickens by culturomic and metagenomic analyses

Environ Microbiol. 2017 Nov;19(11):4771-4783. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13943. Epub 2017 Oct 13.


Different factors may modulate the gut microbiota of animals. In any particular environment, diet, genetic factors and human influences can shape the bacterial communities residing in the gastrointestinal tract. Metagenomic approaches have significantly expanded our knowledge on microbiota dynamics inside hosts, yet cultivation and isolation of bacterial members of these complex ecosystems may still be necessary to fully understand interactions between bacterial communities and their host. A dual approach, involving culture-independent and -dependent techniques, was used here to decipher the microbiota communities that inhabit the gastro intestinal tract of free-range, broiler and feral chickens. In silico analysis revealed the presence of a core microbiota that is typical of those animals that live in different geographical areas and that have limited contact with humans. Anthropic influences guide the metabolic potential and the presence of antibiotic resistance genes of these different bacterial communities. Culturomics attempts, based on different cultivation conditions, were applied to reconstruct in vitro the microbiota of feral chickens. A unique strain collection representing members of the four major phyla of the poultry microbiota was assembled, including bacterial strains that are not typically retrieved from the chicken gut.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Cecum / microbiology*
  • Chickens / microbiology*
  • Diet
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics*
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Metagenomics