The existence of vertical transmission in chickens under commercial settings, where chicks are raised separately from adults, is unclear. To answer this question, the fecal microbiota of chicks hatched and grown separately was compared with their mothers’ microbiota. Most amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) identified in hens were not detected at all in chicks up to two weeks of age by 16S rDNA sequencing, and those that were detected had a low incidence among the chicks. Nevertheless, a few ASVs that were common with the hens were highly prevalent among the chicks, implying that they were efficiently transmitted to chicks. These ASVs were culturable from the reproductive tract of hens and eggshells. Furthermore, interventions attempting to disrupt transmission resulted in a reduction in the prevalence of specific phylogenetic groups in chicks. To conclude, vertical transmission in commercial poultry grown separately from adults likely exists but is not efficient, possibly resulting in impairment of microbiota function. This implies that artificial exposure to adult bacterial strains might improve microbiota functioning.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Israel Ministry of Agriculture (Grant No. 12-04-0022 and 12-04-0025) and by the Israeli Science Foundation (Grant No. 1272/20). Funding agencies had no input into the study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data or writing of the manuscript.
The authors declare the following Competing Financial Interests: this work was partially funded by a commercial company, Phibro Israel, through the abovementioned Ministry of Agriculture Grant (No. 12-04-0022).
© 2023, BioMed Central Ltd.
- Chick colonization
- Gut microbiota
- Vertical transmission