Focal duodenal necrosis (FDN) is a common intestinal disease of table egg layers. In this research we aimed to identify the bacteria commonly found in FDN lesions as seen with histopathological analysis. Fifty-nine ethanol-fixed duodenum samples were collected from egg layers on eight FDN-affected farms, and 42 samples had typical FDN lesions. Excision of bacteria-containing lesions using laser capture microdissection was performed, followed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing of extracted DNA for bacterial identification. Bacterial sequencing analysis revealed no consistent bacterial species identified from samples with FDN. However, analysis of the relative phylum abundance revealed differences in the duodenal microbiota between layers with FDN and healthy birds. There were differences in the abundance of Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria between FDN-positive and FDN-negative control samples compatible with intestinal dysbiosis. In addition, 10 duodenal samples with FDN lesions were collected for bacteriological analysis, yielding 47 colonies on tryptone soy agar, MacConkey agar, and blood agar plates. Using 16S rRNA gene PCR, 39/47 (53.8%) colonies were identified as Escherichia coli. PCR for E. coli virulence genes identified 21/39 (53.8%) E. coli isolates as avian pathogenic E. coli–like. PCR analysis for 19 E. coli virulence genes associated with intestinal disease strains including inflammatory bowel disease found 11/39 (28.2%) isolates containing more than 10 of these virulence genes. In conclusion, FDN appears to be a multifactorial inflammatory intestinal disease associated with intestinal dysbiosis, and Gram-negative bacteria including E. coli may contribute to the pathogenesis of this disease.

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