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Essential oils have been proposed as alternatives to antibiotic use in food animal production. This study evaluated 3 chemotypes of the Origanum genus, containing varying amounts of secondary metabolites carvacrol, thymol, and sabinene, in the broiler chicken diet. Aerial parts of Origanum vulgare L. (OL), O. vulgare L. ssp. hirtum (OH), and O. majorana (OM) were collected from a greenhouse located in the high altitude Sabana de Bogotá (Savanna of Bogotá) and O. vulgare L. ssp. hirtum (OG) produced and ground in Greece. Oregano essential oils (OEO) from these plants were obtained by steam distillation and analyzed by gas chromatography coupled to a mass spectrometer. Six treatments were evaluated: 200 mg/kg of OEO from OH, OL, and OM, 50 mg/kg of OEO from OG, 500 mg/kg of chlortetracycline, and without additives. Broiler chicks were maintained at 2,600 m above sea level, placed in brooder cages under a completely randomized design. Template DNA was isolated from duodenal, jejunal, ileal, and cecal contents in each group and bacterial 16S rDNA patterns were analyzed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Dendrograms of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis band patterns revealed 2 main clusters, OEO-treated chicks and nontreated control chicks, in each intestinal segment. Band patterns from different gut compartments revealed major bacterial population shifts in the foregut (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum) compared with the hindgut (cecum and colon) at all ages evaluated (P < 0.05). The OEO groups showed less shift (62.7% similarity coefficient) between these 2 compartments versus the control groups (53.7% similarity coefficient). A reduction of 59% in mortality from ascites was seen in additive-supplemented groups compared with the control group. This study represents the first work to evaluate the effects of the 3 main chemotypes of Origanum genus in broilers.


Betancourt, L., Rodriguez, F., Phandanouvong, V., Ariza-Nieto, C., Hume, M., Nisbet, D., Afanador-Téllez, G., Van Kley, A. M., & Nalian, A. (2014). Effect of Origanum chemotypes on broiler intestinal bacteria. Poultry Science, 93(10), 2526–2535.




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