Assessing the Impact of Flavophospholipol and Virginiamycin Supplementation on the Broiler Microbiota - a Prospective Controlled Intervention Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Mohamed Ahmed
  • Matilda Berkell
  • Britto Xavier
  • Sarah De Backer
  • Christine Lammens
  • Veerle Hautekiet

Institutes & Expert groups

  • UA - Universiteit Antwerpen
  • Huvepharma

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The antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) flavophospholipol and virginiamycin have been widely used for decades in food animal production. AGP activity is believed to be partly modulated by gut microbial composition although exact AGPinduced changes remain unclear. In a controlled intervention study, we studied the effect of flavophospholipol and virginiamycin on the broiler chicken ileal microbiota spanning from birth to 39 days. Using 16S rRNA gene profiling and prediction of metabolic activity, we show that both AGPs result in dynamic microbial shifts that potentially increase anti-inflammatory mechanisms and bioavailability of several essential nutrients by decreasing degradation (flavophospholipol) or increasing biosynthesis (virginiamycin). Further, virginiamycin-supplemented broilers showed increased colonization with potentially pathogenic bacteria, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter, and Escherichia/Shigella spp. Overall, we show that both AGPs induce microbial changes potentially beneficial for growth. However, the increase in (foodborne) pathogens shown here with virginiamycin use could impact not only broiler mortality but also human health.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00381-21
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021


  • Flavomycin, Flavophospholipol, Virginiamycin, Broiler chicken, Microbiota, 16S rRNA sequencing

ID: 7185441