Prevention of Avian Pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) Infections in Poultry Using Novel Probiotics

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2018: $11,817.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2021
Grant Recipient: The Ohio State University
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Gireesh Rajashekara
The Ohio State University

Information Products


  • Animals: poultry


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, preventive practices, probiotics, therapeutics

    Proposal abstract:

    Avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC), an extra-intestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC), is one of the most common bacterial pathogens of poultry and can be potentially transmitted to humans through consumption of contaminated poultry products. It causes multiple extra-intestinal diseases in poultry, collectively called as avian colibacillosis, which results in high morbidity and mortality (up to 20%), meat and eggs production losses, and increased condemnation of carcasses at slaughter (up to 45%), thus poses significant threat to global poultry production and food security as well as sustainable animal agriculture worldwide. Currently, APEC infections in poultry are controlled by antibiotics medication and vaccination; however, the emergence of multi-drug resistant APEC strains worldwide limits the antibiotics use and vaccines are unable to provide sufficient protection against diverse APEC serotypes. Further, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has recommended the voluntarily phasing out the production uses of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals, with the goal of reducing the selection pressure and the emergence of resistant bacteria (Guidance for Industry, #209,
    #213). However, limiting on-farm use of antibiotics could significantly increase animal morbidity and mortality and compromise production efficiency and food security. Therefore, it is critical to replace antibiotics with alternatives that effectively mitigate pathogens on farm for sustainable and safe food production. Towards this end, by conducting multiple in vitro assays, we have identified two probiotics in our lab with strong antimicrobial activity against APEC. We hypothesized that probiotics can effectively prevent APEC infections in poultry, thus provide alternate strategy to control APEC and reduce the reliance on antibiotics. Furthermore, we have prepared probiotics microcapsules using chitosan-alginate microencapsulation technology; encapsulation prolongs the action of probiotics, thereby facilitate efficient delivery of the probiotics to chickens. Here, we propose to test the efficacy of identified probiotics to prevent APEC infections in poultry both in controlled laboratory condition as well as in field conditions. This study will help to develop as well as farmers adoption of non-antibiotic control method for effective management of APEC infections in poultry farms. Through effective control of infections, animal health can be promoted and losses can be minimized ensuring food security. Moreover, public health can be safeguarded by producing safe and wholesome food.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This study will address the issue of antibiotic resistance and focused on developing antibiotic-independent control method.

    Learning outcomes: we expect that farmers will increase their knowledge about poultry diseases, antibiotics, antibiotic resistance, and potential non-antibiotic alternatives. The awareness level on prudent use of antibiotics, food security, and food safety is expected to increase. The positive attitude of farmers to enhance the food animal production along with production of safe and wholesome food is expected to nurture. In addition, the husbandry skills of farmers to rear healthy food animals are expected to enhance.

    Action outcomes: we expect that farmers will adopt probiotics based control method to control APEC and other poultry associated diseases on their farms. Also, the farmers dependency on antibiotics to control poultry diseases is expected to shift towards possible non-antibiotic alternatives.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.