When we think about the gastrointestinal tract we often think about the various bacteria or “bugs” that are present. We tend to categorize them as good bugs or bad bugs. However, the gut microbiome is much more complex than this. Previously used technology, such as 16s gene sequencing, aimed to identify the types and numbers of microorganisms present. It allowed researchers to understand that gut microorganism composition varies greatly between animals, within the same species, age, and environment. As an animal matures and its gut develops there is a resulting change in their gut microbiome. New and improved technology allows us to take a deeper look into the micobiome, specifically looking at the metagenome (all the genes across the microorganisms). This information is more powerful than microbial profiling as it gives superior information about the microbiome such as, metabolic pathways and metabolites, and how these might affect the bird’s health, performance, growth, and livability.
The gut microbiome is essential for optimal growth and health of an animal. In general, when the microbiome is producing an overabundance of detrimental metabolites, or an insufficient number of favorable metabolites, the animals functionality is impacted. Across a species there are core metagenomic pathways, regardless of the type or abundance of microorganisms present. These core microbiome pathways tend to involve central carbon and nitrogen utilization, such as carbohydrate, lipid, amino acid and nucleotide metabolism. Within these pathways there are both beneficial and adverse metabolites produced.
For example, nitrogen utilization pathways control the utilization of peptides that can be absorbed and utilized by the animal. Production of these metabolites can result in excessive ammonia, biogenic amines, and other nitrogenous toxins that cause inflammation, decrease barrier function, and have a negative impact on the environment and animal welfare. If we can understand this pathway and how we might effect the metabolites produced, we can improve the animals status and positively impact the environment.
Understanding the micobiome is essential to unlocking the potential of the gastrointestinal tract. It is well known that the gastrointestinal microbiome is essential for an animal’s growth, health, and development. Utilizing modern microbiome technology, the potential of the micobiome in is observed in greater detail. We can measure the impacts of different feed ingredients and the resulting outcomes, whether accommodating or antagonistic. Further, we can begin to shift the bird to optimal gut function to improve health and performance bringing more value to animal production.
20 June 2022
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