Feed Strategy - April 2018 - 11
FeedStrategy ❙ 11
As agriculture looks to reduce antibiotic use,
bacteriophages could be used to prevent and treat
bacterial infections in animals and humans.
gaetan Stoffel | iStock.com
Bacteriophages could be used
to treat bacterial infections in
animals and control the spread
of pathogens to humans.
What is a bacteriophage?
A bacteriophage is a virus that
infects and replicates within a
bacterium. The name comes from
the Greek word phagein, which
means "to devour." Phages are
ubiquitous to the environment
present within their bacterial
hosts, populating spaces such as
soil and the intestines of animals.
Bacteriophages are composed
of proteins that encapsulate a
DNA or RNA genome. They
replicate within bacteria by
April 2018 ❙ www.WATTAgNet.com
injecting their genome into its
cytoplasm. Then, in the case of
lytic phages, the bacterial cell is
split open and destroyed, enabling
the new phage to infect another
host. This type of phage is suitable
for use as an antibiotic alternative.
The specificity of phages
against a particular bacterial
species, without negatively
effecting beneficial bacteria
within the gut, make them
attractive anti-bacterial agents.
Phage research for poultry
With the removal of antibiotic
growth promoters (AGP), reports
suggest increased cases of necrotic
enteritis in poultry. The bacterium
Clostridium perfringens is
responsible for these infections,
alongside confounding factors.
Scientists identified several
lytic bacteriophages specific for
this bacterium, demonstrating
a reduction in mortality and an
increase in weight gain when
fed to chicks. A cocktail of
C. perfringens phages could
therefore be used to help prevent
or treat necrotic enteritis.
Bacteriophages have also been
used to treat E. coli infections
in broilers by injection into the
air sacs. In these trials, mortality
rates were significantly reduced.
Similarly, when bacteriophages
were delivered intra-muscularly to