SUMMARY

Eimeria spp. are important intestinal pathogens of chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus). Anticoccidial feed additives, chemicals, and ionophores have traditionally been used to control Eimeria infections in broiler production. Thus, the trend toward antibiotic-free and organic production requires new approaches to coccidiosis prevention. Two not mutually exclusive methods are the use of plant extracts with antiparasitic activity and manipulation of the intestinal microbiota by pre- and probiotics. In the present study, birds were inoculated with a combination of Eimeria acervulina, Eimeria maxima, and Eimeria tenella. We profiled the jejunal microbiome at multiple time points postinfection to investigate the changes in jejunum microbiota and to identify the time point of the maximum difference between infected and noninfected birds. Additionally, we assessed the anticoccidial effects of two anecdotal treatment methods, green tea and apple cider vinegar, as well as amprolium. Green tea and apple cider vinegar had no effect on oocyst shedding, but green tea reduced the mild unspecific lesions in coccidia-infected birds; there was no influence on unspecific lesions in uninfected controls. Jejunal contents were collected on the day of the infection and 1, 2, 4, 6, 10, and 14 days postinfection (dpi) for investigation of the intestinal microbiota by 16S ribosomal (r)RNA gene sequencing. Comparison of the untreated-uninfected and the untreated-infected groups showed a maximum community dissimilarity of 10 dpi. From 4 days after infection, Clostridiales were significantly enriched at the expense of Lactobacillales in infected compared with uninfected birds. Interestingly, treatment with green tea prevented proliferation of Clostridiales induced by the coccidia and increased the relative abundance of Melainabacteria.

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