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Abstract

Bacillus subtilis (B. subtilis) as in-feed probiotics is a potential alternative for antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) in the poultry industry. The current study investigated the effects of B. subtilis on the performance, immunity, gut microbiota, and intestinal barrier function of broiler chickens. A 42-day feeding trial was conducted with a total of 600 1-day-old Arbor Acres broilers with similar initial body weight, which was randomly divided into one of five dietary treatments: the basal diet (Ctrl), Ctrl + virginiamycin (AGP), Ctrl + B. subtilis A (BSA), Ctrl + B. subtilis B (BSB), and Ctrl + B. subtilis A + B (1:1, BSAB). The results showed significantly increased average daily gain in a step-wise manner from the control, B. subtilis, and to the AGP groups. The mortality rate of the B. subtilis group was significantly lower than the AGP group. The concentrations of serum immunoglobulin (Ig) G (IgG), IgA, and IgM in the B. subtilis and AGP groups were higher than the control group, and the B. subtilis groups had the highest content of serum lysozyme and relative weight of thymus. Dietary B. subtilis increased the relative length of ileum and the relative weight of jejunum compared with the AGP group. The villus height (V), crypt depth (C), V/C, and intestinal wall thickness of the jejunum in the B. subtilis and AGP groups were increased relative to the control group. Dietary B. subtilis increased the messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of ZO-1, Occludin, and Claudin-1, the same as AGP. The contents of lactic acid, succinic acid, and butyric acid in the ileum and cecum were increased by dietary B. subtilis. Dietary B. subtilis significantly increased the lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in the ileum and cecum and decreased the coliforms and Clostridium perfringens in the cecum. The improved performance and decreased mortality rate observed in the feeding trial could be accrued to the positive effects of B. subtilis on the immune response capacity, gut health, and gut microflora balance, and the combination of two strains showed additional benefits on the intestinal morphology and tight junction protein expressions. Therefore, it can be concluded that dietary B. subtilis A and B could be used as alternatives to synthetic antibiotics in the promotion of gut health and productivity index in broiler production.

Keywords: Bacillus subtilis; broiler chickens; gut microbiota; immunity; probiotic.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Bacillus SubtilisImproved Average Daily GainBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus SubtilisImproved Gut MicrofloraBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus SubtilisImproved Intestinal MorphologyBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus SubtilisImproved Tight Junction Protein ExpressionBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus SubtilisIncreased Short-Chain Fatty Acid LevelsBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus SubtilisReduced Mortality RateBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis AB22Enhanced Beneficial Gut MicrobiotaBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis AB22Improved Average Daily GainBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis AB22Improved Intestinal MorphologyBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis AB22Improved Tight Junction Protein ExpressionBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis AB22Increased Serum ImmunoglobulinsBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis AB22Increased Serum Lysozyme LevelsBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis AB22Increased Thymus WeightBeneficial
Small
Bacillus subtilis AB22Reduced Harmful MicroorganismsBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis AB22Reduced Mortality RateBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis DE11Improved Average Daily GainBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis DE11Improved Gut Microbiota BalanceBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis DE11Improved Immune ResponseBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis DE11Improved Intestinal FunctionBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis DE11Improved Tight Junction Protein ExpressionBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis DE11Increased Short-Chain Fatty Acid ProductionBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis DE11Reduced Colitis-Related MortalityBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis DE111Elevated Serum Immunoglobulin LevelsBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis DE111Enhanced Beneficial Gut MicrobiotaBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis DE111Improved Average Daily GainBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis DE111Improved Intestinal MorphologyBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis DE111Improved Tight Junction Protein ExpressionBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis DE111Increased Serum Lysozyme LevelsBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis DE111Increased Short Chain Fatty AcidsBeneficial
Small
Bacillus subtilis DE111Reduced Colitis-Related MortalityBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis HU58Elevated Serum Immunoglobulin LevelsBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis HU58Improved Average Daily GainBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis HU58Improved Gut Microbiota BalanceBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis HU58Improved Intestinal Barrier FunctionBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis HU58Improved Intestinal MorphologyBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis HU58Increased Short-Chain Fatty Acid LevelsBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis HU58Reduced Colitis-Related MortalityBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis MB40Improved Average Daily GainBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis MB40Improved Intestinal MorphologyBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis MB40Increased Beneficial Gut MicrobiotaBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis MB40Increased Serum Immunoglobulin LevelsBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis MB40Increased Short-Chain Fatty Acid LevelsBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis MB40Increased Tight Junction Protein Gene ExpressionBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis MB40Reduced Harmful Gut BacteriaBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis MB40Reduced Mortality RateBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis SNZ-1972Balanced Gut MicrobiotaBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis SNZ-1972Improved Growth PerformanceBeneficial
Large
Bacillus subtilis SNZ-1972Improved Intestinal Barrier FunctionBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis SNZ-1972Improved Intestinal MorphologyBeneficial
Moderate
Bacillus subtilis SNZ-1972Reduced Colitis-Related MortalityBeneficial
Moderate

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