Is this family of intestinal bacteria improving animal performance?

The family Erysipelotrichaceae, which is probably quite unknown to most, is an emerging group of bacteria in the phylum Firmicutes, which contains species originally classified into Clostridial subphylum clusters XVI & XVIII. In the cecum of broiler chickens, Erysipelotrichaceae is considered to be part of the core microbiota, comprising a high percentage of total microbiota.

Erysipelotrichaceae is associated with broiler chicken performance

Several recent feeding trials have suggested that enrichment of Erysipelotrichaceae is associated with improved broiler performance, more specifically with reduced feed conversion ratio and/or increased body weight gain. At bacterial genus level, the most consistent and strongest correlations with good performance have been found with increased relative abundance of Erysipelatoclostridium spp. The species within this genus include originally misclassified Clostridium ramosum, C. spiroforme, and C. cocleatum in cluster XVIII, which have kept the genus name Clostridium, adding to the taxonomic confusion.

Potential mode-of-action

The role of these bacteria in broiler chicken intestinal tract and the reasons why they are associated with improved animal performance remain to be determined, as there are only few cultured species available in the family Erysipelotrichaceae, and therefore their function in the gut ecosystem is rather obscure. However, human studies suggest that increased abundance of these bacteria play a role in obesity development. Studies on the mode-of-action of Erysipelotrichaceae in weight gain, using a gnotobiotic mouse model with simplified human intestinal microbiota, have shown that the presence of C. ramosum upregulates small intestinal glucose and fat transporters, resulting in enhanced nutrient absorption and increased weight gain. It is possible that the underlying mechanisms explaining the role of Erysipelotrichaceae in the host’s energy harvesting efficiency could be similar in production animals, which would explain their association with the improved performance of broiler chickens. This makes Erysipelotrichaceae an interesting and appealing microbial target to monitor in lower intestinal samples from production animals.

Quantitative real-time PCR analysis of Erysipelatoclostridium spp. has been recently added to the research toolbox at Alimetrics Diagnostics. Learn more here.

References to literature upon request.