Short-term or acute temperature stress affect the immune responses and alters the gut microbiota of broilers, but the influences of long-term temperature stress on stress biomarkers and the intestinal microbiota remains largely unknown. Therefore, we examined the effect of three long-term ambient temperatures (high (HC), medium (MC), and low (LC) temperature groups) on the gene expression of broilers’ heat shock proteins (Hsps) and inflammation – related genes, as well as the caecal microbial composition. The results revealed that Hsp70 and Hsp90 levels in HC group significantly increased, and levels of Hsp70, Hsp90, IL-6, TNF-α, and NFKB1 in LC group were significantly higher than in MC group (p < 0.05). In comparison with the MC group, the proportion of Firmicutes increased in HC and LC groups, while that of Bacteroidetes decreased in LC group at phylum level (p < 0.05). At genus level, the proportion of Escherichia/Shigella, Phascolarctobacterium, Parabacteroides,and Enterococcus increased in HC group; the fraction of Faecalibacterium was higher in LC group; and the percentage of Barnesiella and Alistipes decreased in both HC and LC groups (p < 0.05). Functional analysis based on communities’ phylogenetic investigation revealed that the pathways involved in environmental information processing and metabolism were enriched in the HC group. Those involved in cellular processes and signaling, metabolism, and gene regulation were enriched in LC group. Hence, we conclude that the long-term temperature stress can greatly alter the intestinal microbial communities in broilers and may further affect the host’s immunity and health.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, Microbiology and Virology