DSM: Targeting microbiome metabolism results in an effective tool for poultry industry

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ligora
© GettyImages/ligora

Related tags precision biotic Dsm Poultry welfare microbiome

There is a new focus in poultry microbiome research, with specialists now looking more at function and metabolic pathways, rather than the conventional approach that placed emphasis on microbial composition, says DSM.

In that context, the Dutch animal nutrition specialist has developed a precision biotic; it is designed to orchestrate microbiome metabolism and optimize the bird’s resilience to enteric stress, to aid in nutrient utilization, to improve welfare, and to also reduce emissions.

DSM launched Symphiome at the World's Poultry Congress (WPC), held in Paris during 9-11 August.

Research conducted to understand the exact mechanism of action of precision biotics (PBs) has demonstrated that they increase metabolic functions intrinsic to the microbiome that are able to detoxify unabsorbed amino acids and leaked host protein, independent of the microbiota composition, said the company.

“This leads to that higher resilience to enteric stress, better nutrient utilization, improved welfare and reduced emissions,”​ noted an overview by Dr Cristiano Bortoluzzi, senior poultry scientist and Dr Jack Geremia, global head of microbiome discovery, DSM nutritional products, Switzerland.

‘An untapped opportunity’

Luis Valenzuela, product manager at DSM animal nutrition and health, told us that the company has been actively involved in microbiome science for many years, with the idea of improving both profitability and sustainability in the animal production industry. 

“This includes everything from our work in methane reduction through harnessing microbe host-interactions that drive resilience, feed efficiency, and welfare in monogastrics. Our strategy rests on developing precision solutions to address industry needs and offer best-in-class efficacy and consistency. Precision biotics are the latest innovation born out of that strategy.

“The microbiome converts undigested feed into thousands of metabolites that affect the health, performance, and welfare of its host animal, as well as its emission profile. Shifting microbial metabolism was an untapped opportunity that we identified, and our expertise in microbiome science put us in an excellent position to act.”

Mechanism of action

The mechanism of action employed by PBs is different from that of prebiotics or other conventional gut-health products, stressed Bortoluzzi and Geremia.

Precision biotics are carbohydrates with glycosidic linkages and size distributions selected specifically for their ability to modulate intestinal microbiome pathways, they said.

“They are microbiome metabolic modulators that conduct bacterial functions, encouraging the production of substances that promote beneficial outcomes to the animal.”

Symphiome works by increasing the number of genes associated with protein and amino acid metabolism and short-chain fatty acid production, which reduces intestinal ammonia production, and reduces the generation of skatole and other indoles that increase luminal pH, cause epithelial damage and negatively impact litter quality and welfare, among other negative effects, they explained.

In studies, the result was an improvement in observed in litter quality and welfare indicators, such as foot pad dermatitis, added those experts.

A publication from Walsh et al. (2021) reported that Symphiome modulated the functions of the cecal microbiome related to propionic acid production and nitrogen metabolism, while a paper by Jacquier et al. (2022), comprising two studies of broiler chicken studies raised in floor pens to evaluate the effect of DSM’s PB, showed that such supplementation improved litter score, ammonia output and gait score.

Due to the improved welfare and gas emission indicators, the authors reported that the PB improved body weight gain (BWG) by 44g on day 35 and feed conversion ratio (FCR) by 11.4 points. In the second study, BWG was improved by 112 g, and FCR by 4.7 points.

Digging deeper into how the precision biotic modulates intestinal microbiome pathways, Valenzuela said: “Gut microbes are highly skilled at sensing different nutritional ingredients in the gut environment and then tuning their own metabolism to make the best use of those nutrients.  Microbial communities like the gut microbiome inherently have thousands of receptors that detect nutritional molecules - carbohydrates, amino acid, etc. - around them and regulate gene expression and gene abundance across the community. Symphiome is a glycan that microbes can sense in their environment and they subsequently react to it by improving how they metabolize protein.”

Beyond poultry

DSM is developing precision biotics for other species as well.

“With the ownership of an extensive glycan library and the unique screening capabilities of our novel platform, we are able to focus on precision nutritional solutions that address various customer pain points impacting animal production and health.

"The application for poultry is the first solution to come to the market from a robust pipeline of precision biotics. We expect more new and exciting developments will come to the market in the next few years, leveraging the microbiome of other species, including swine, ruminants and aquatic animals. These ongoing innovations support our strategy to address major industry challenges through improvements in gastrointestinal functionality, decreased emissions and herd uniformity and welfare," ​added Valenzuela.


Symphiome is registered in multiple markets globally, he reported.

"It is authorized across all geographies, with over 85% of target markets already cleared. This includes major jurisdictions such as Brazil, Mexico, US, India, the EU, Australia, Japan, Thailand and China."

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