Untitled ItemCaecal microbial communities, functional diversity, and metabolic pathways in Ross 308 broiler chickens fed with diets containing different levels of Marama (Tylosema esculentum) bean meal
The caecum of a chicken harbours complex microbial communities that play vital roles in feed digestion, nutrient absorption, and bird health. Understanding the caecal microbial communities could help improve feed utilisation efficiency and chicken product quality and, ultimately, deliver sustainable poultry production systems. Thus, this study assessed the caecal microbial communities and their functional diversity and metabolic pathways in broilers reared on diets containing different levels of marama (Tylosema esculentum) bean meal (MBM). A total of 350, day-old male Ross 308 broiler chicks were randomly allocated to 5 dietary treatments formulated as follows: a soybean-based standard broiler diet (Con_BC); Con_BC in which soybean products were substituted with 7 (M7_BC), 14 (M14_BC), 21 (M21_BC), and 28 % (M28_BC) MBM. The dietary treatments were distributed to 35 replicate pens (10 birds each). After 42 days of feeding, the birds were slaughtered and thereafter caecal samples were collected from each replicate pen. Subsequently, the samples were pooled per treatment group for metagenomics sequence analysis. The results revealed that the bacteria domain (99.11 %), with Bacteroides, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria being the most prominent phyla (48.28, 47.52 and 4.86 %, respectively). Out of 846 genera obtained, the most abundant genera were Bacteroides, Clostridium, Alistipes, Faecalibacterium, Ruminococcus, Eubacterium, and Parabacterioides. At the genus level, the alpha-diversity showed significant (P < 0.05) difference across all treatment groups. Based on the SEED subsystem, 28 functional categories that include carbohydrates (14.65 %), clustering-based subsystems (13.01 %), protein metabolism (10.12 %) were obtained. The KO analysis revealed 183 endogenous pathways, with 100 functional pathways associated with the metabolism category. Moreover, 15 pathways associated with carbohydrates were observed. The glycolysis/gluconeogenesis, galactose metabolism, pyruvate metabolism (15.32, 12.63 and 11.93 %) were the most abundant pathways. Moreover, glycoside hydrolases (GH1, GH5, and GH13) were the most prominent carbohydrates-active enzymes. Therefore, results presented in this study suggest that dietary MB meal can improve microbial communities and their functional and metabolic pathways, which may help increase poultry production.