Man and poultry harbor many microorganisms which are actually necessary for maintaining a healthy normal life. Micro organisms can be classified as the friendly and the pathogenic ones. The friendly ones keep us away from diseases where as the pathogens cause diseases. In our earlier days we tried preventing diseases by the use of antibiotics. However we are now quickly recognizing that these antibiotics did not differentiate between the useful and the harmful bacteria and killed each one. This made the body of the bird more prone to diseases and antibiotic resistance, which could be also transferred to human beings who eventually consume the birds.
What could be the other way to prevent disease?
Probiotics or the useful microbes are the possible answer.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microbial feed supplements which beneficially affect the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance and thus optimizes health (Fuller, 1992). Correspondingly, in feed regulation, probiotics are included in the group of feed additives for stabilizing the microbial communities of the digestive tract in monogastric animals and ruminants. They are also known as digestive bioregulators or direct-fed microbials (DFMs).
Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian biologist who worked around 1900 at the Institute Pasteur in Paris, studied the mystery of the high life expectancy of Cossacks in Bulgaria. He related their extraordinarily high life expectancy of 115 years and more to their very high consumption of fermented milk products. He named the microorganism relevant for the fermentation Bacillus bulgaricus, later classified as Lactobacillus bulgaricus, which was used against scours and gastrointestinal diseases in humans as early as the 1920s.
How probiotics act?
The probiotic bacteria reduce or prevent the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms by competitive inhibition. This competitive inhibition occurs in a number of ways:
- Probiotic bacteria create an unfavorable environment for the harmful bacteria by producing lactic or other organic acids
- The probiotic bacteria produce antibiotic-like substances that kill harmful pathogens.
- The probiotic bacteria feed on the same nutrients as the pathogenic bacteria, thereby limiting their food supply
- The numbers of harmful bacteria are reduced as the probiotic bacteria adhere to the intestinal villus and there by preventing the harmful microbes from adhering to the intestinal villi (no place for pathogens to sit).
In addition, probiotics have been shown to have proteolytic and lipolytic activities which improve the digestion and assimilation of ingested nutrients. They also produce valuable essential vitamins and other nutrients
How probiotics have evolved over the centuries?
The first generation of probiotics used where lactic acid bacteria like
Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus delbrueckii spp bulgaricus, Lactobacillus rhamanosus, Enterococcus faecium and Bifidobacterium bifidum
Later on the second generation of probiotics evolved which where mainly fungi like Aspergillus etc,
The third generation where the yeasts like sachromyces etc.
However they where having some disadvantages like:
They cannot survive in high bile concentrations of the duodenum.
They are destroyed by the stomach acids.
Require large numbers to survive in the gut.
They are anaerobic.
They are sensitive to heat and pressure.
Currently the fourth generation probiotic have evolved. The spore farming direct fed microbials. Like
Spore-forming bacteria can be compared to a seed. When left alone, the seed is dormant – meaning to say it’s not alive, yet it’s not dead either. It’s kept in a state of “readiness” by a protective shell. However, when this seed is put into the right temperature and moisture, it starts to germinate, or grow.
Just as a seed waits for the proper conditions to start growing, so does the spore forming bacteria. Safely enclosed within a spore coat that protects it from the environment, heat, oxygen and digestive acids. Once they reach the intestine the spore coat dissolves, freeing the bacteria to multiply and churn out the beneficial lactic acid.
When to start microguard?
Chicks are born with a sterile digestive tract, but soon after birth a wide diversity of microorganisms begins to colonize the digestive tract
The immune system learns to recognize and to tolerate the bacteria that colonized it early in the life.
Once the process of colonizing the intestinal tract is complete, the composition of the intestinal flora will remain pretty much the same throughout the bird’s life.
It is very important for the bird to be exposed to Microguard early in its life’
Spores and its germination with reference
Spore forming probiotics germinate in the intestinal environment within 30/60 minutes of ingestion and undergo many germination and sporulation cycles in the digestive tract. Germination of Bacillus spore in the gastrointestinal (Casula and Cutting, 2002; Hoa et al, 2000),
q Oral administration results in colonization in the gut of Poultry and Piggery.
q Remains in the gut for many days.
Advantage of spores?
- They are non pathogenic and naturally found in water and soil.
- Adhesity are considered an important issue. Adhesion to intestinal mucosa represents first step in colonization process. (Tuomola et al 2001). It is associated to a shortening of diarrhea, immunogenic effect and competitive exclusion (Salminen et al, 1996; Saavedra et al 1994).
- Acid and bile stability studies showed that Bacillus spores are resistant to the acidity on the stomach, lysozyme and bile acids. (Tuomola et al 2001).Bacillus spores survive at gastric pH and reach the intestine, where sporulation occurs.
- They ferment a large number of sugars.
- Bacillus spores produce the preferred L+ optical isomer of lactic acid which is fully metabolized in the animal’s body
- They secrete protease, lipase and amylase enzymes.
- They are spores and therefore are thermostable.
- Miscellaneous characteristics: several metabolites produced by probiotic spore forming Bacteria have shown anti-microbial effects, including organic acid, fatty acid, hydrogen peroxide, bacteriocin and protinaceous (Ouwenhand, 1998; Nes and Johnsborg, 2004)
- Local antibiotic and bacteriostatic/ bacteriocidal substances produced by these spp help them to protect pathogens like polymyxin produced by B. polymyxa.
- Suppresses the growth of enterobacteria and enterococci.