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Evaluation of germination, distribution, and persistence of Bacillus subtilis spores through the gastrointestinal tract of chickens

D. Latorre ,* X. Hernandez-Velasco ,† G. Kallapura ,* A. Menconi ,* N. R. Pumford ,* M. J. Morgan ,* S. L. Layton ,‡ L. R. Bielke ,* B. M. Hargis ,* and G. Tellez *1

* Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 72701; † Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 04510, Mexico; and ‡ Argentina Vetanco S.A. Chile 33 (B1603CMA) Vicente Lopez, Buenos Aires, Argentina 1638

ABSTRACT Spores are popular as direct-fed microbials, though little is known about their mode of action. Hence, the first objective of the present study was to evaluate the in vitro germination and growth rate of Bacillus subtilis spores. Approximately 90% of B. subtilis spores germinate within 60 min in the presence of feed in vitro. The second objective was to determine the distribution of these spores throughout different anatomical segments of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) in a chicken model. For in vivo evaluation of persistence and dissemination, spores were administered to day-of-hatch broiler chicks either as a single gavage dose or constantly in the feed. During 2 independent experiments, chicks were housed in isolation chambers and fed sterile corn-soy-based diets. In these experiments one group of chickens was supplemented with 106 spores/g of feed, whereas a second group was gavaged with a single dose of 106 spores per chick on day of hatch. In both experiments, crop, ileum, and cecae were sampled from 5 chicks at 24, 48, 72, 96, and 120 h. Viable B. subtilis spores were determined by plate count method after heat treatment (75°C for 10 min). The number of recovered spores was constant through 120 h in each of the enteric regions from chickens receiving spores supplemented in the feed. However, the number of recovered B. subtilis spores was consistently about 105 spores per gram of digesta, which is about a 1-log10 reduction of the feed inclusion rate, suggesting approximately a 90% germination rate in the GIT when fed. On the other hand, recovered B. subtilis spores from chicks that received a single gavage dose decreased with time, with only approximately 102 spores per gram of sample by 120 h. This confirms that B. subtilis spores are transiently present in the GIT of chickens, but the persistence of vegetative cells is presently unknown. For persistent benefit, continuous administration of effective B. subtilis direct-fed microbials as vegetative cells or spores is advisable.


Key words: Bacillus subtilis , spore , germination , direct-fed microbial , probiotic

2014 Poultry Science 93 :1793–1800 10.3382/ps.2013-03809

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