Pasture flock chicken cecal microbiome responses to prebiotics and plum fiber feed amendments

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When prebiotics and other fermentation substrates are delivered to animals as feed supplements, the typical goal is to improve weight gain and feed conversion. In this work, we examined pasture flock chicken cecal contents using next generation sequencing (NGS) to identify and understand the composition of the microbiome when prebiotics and fermentation substrates were supplemented. We generated 16S rRNA sequencing data for 120 separate cecal samples from groups of chickens receiving one of 3 prebiotics or fiber feed additives. The data indicated that respective feed additives enrich for specific bacterial community members and modulate the diversity of the microbiome. We applied synthetic learning in microbial ecology (SLiME) analysis to interpret 16S rRNA microbial community data and identify specific bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTU) that are predictive of the particular feed additives used in these experiments. The results suggest that feed can influence microbiome composition in a predictable way, and thus diet may have indirect effects on weight gain and feed conversion through the microbiome.

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