Current Microbiology, Vol.72, No.3, 259-266, 2016
Influence of Flaxseed Oil on Fecal Microbiota, Egg Quality and Fatty Acid Composition of Egg Yolks in Laying Hens
Although there have been many attempts to produce omega-3 fatty acid-rich eggs using alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that is a popular fatty acid in the poultry feed industry, only limited knowledge about the effects of ALA enriched diets on chicken fecal microbiota is currently available. Herein we examined the changes in the fecal microbiota composition, egg quality traits and fatty acid composition of the egg yolks of laying hens fed ALA-rich flaxseed oil for 8 weeks. The animals fed the experimental diets that contained 0 % (group C), 0.5 % (group T1), and 1.0 % (group T2) of flaxseed oil, respectively, and eggs and feces were obtained for the analyses. omega-3 fatty acids, including ALA, were increased in T1 and T2 compared with C. Furthermore, the freshness of eggs was improved with no side effects on the eggs. The diet also changed the fecal microbiota; Firmicutes was increased in T1 and T2 (48.6 to 83 and 79.6 %) and Bacteroidetes was decreased (40.2 to 8.8 and 4.2 %). Principal coordinate analysis revealed that Lactobacillus, among the 56 examined genera, was the most influenced bacterial group in terms of the fecal microbial community shifts. These results indicate that ALA-rich diets influenced both the egg and fecal microbiota in beneficial manners in laying hens although the association between the fatty acid composition of the egg yolk and the fecal microbiota was not clear. This study is a first step to understand the effect of flaxseed oil as well as intestinal microbiota of laying hens.