Chalmers G, Martin SW, Hunter DB, Prescott JF, Weber LJ, Boerlin P. Vet Microbiol. 2008 Feb 5;127(1-2):116-27. Epub 2007 Aug 15. PubMed PMID: 17888591.
Clostridium perfringens is an important commensal and bacterial pathogen of many animal species. It has particular significance in poultry, where it may cause necrotic enteritis. Our objective was to characterize the population diversity of C. perfringens colonizing healthy birds, and to observe how diversity changed over time. Isolates were obtained from broiler chicken cecal samples in two barns on a single farm, on days 7, 14, 22, 27, 30 and 34 of a single 42-day rearing cycle. Bacitracin was used as a feed additive in one of the barns and withdrawn from the second barn for the duration of the experiment. Each isolate was typed using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) using SmaI restriction endonuclease. A total of 205 cecal isolates from 49 birds were typed, as well as 93 isolates from the barn environment (bedding, drinking water and feces). Eight major PFGE types and 17 subtypes were found in the 298 total isolates. The results show that an optimal sampling strategy would involve a large number of birds, with only a few isolates sampled per bird. The diversity of C. perfringens in this study appears to be low within a single bird, and increases as the bird matures. There was no significant difference in genetic diversity between the two barns. In addition, isolates from fresh fecal samples appear to represent the cecal C. perfringens population accurately, although this was not proven statistically. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing was performed on selected isolates (n=41) representing a cross-section of PFGE types. Based on minimum inhibitory concentration distributions, 95% of the isolates tested were deemed resistant to bacitracin, with a 16 microg/mL breakpoint. Three new cpb2 (beta2 toxin gene) variants were found in the study.