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Exploring the intestinal microflora with DGGE
Michaela Mohnl

Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) is a nucleic acid based (DNA or RNA) technique which can be used to profile and identify dominant members of the microbial community based on their genetic fingerprint. Using this approach, differences in the genetic sequence of the 16S rRNA gene (28S for fungi) allows DNA from various microorganisms to physically separate and generate a profile of the dominant members which become visible as bands in a gel image.


The important role of gastrointestinal microflora in health and disease of animals and humans is increasingly recognised, which makes it interesting for scientists but also animal nutritionists and veterinarians to explore and understand the interplay between microbes and host in order to develop strategies how to protect animals from enteric diseases and to improve efficiency in economic livestock farming. We are far away from a vast understanding about the intestinal composition of bacteria due to limitations of analysis methods like culture dependent techniques. These limitations can be overcome by the use of molecular methods like DGGE. The composition of the intestinal microflora is largely dependent on type of nutrition and environment. Natural feed additives like pro- and prebiotics do not only influence performance standards of farm animals but have also a positive impact on the composition of the microbial population in the gastrointestinal tract thus protecting young animals against colonisation by harmful bacteria.


DGGE is a tool to investigate the effect of feed additives such as probiotics and prebiotics on the GI microbiota and thus obtain a better understanding how to manage the microbial communities in animals' guts by nutritional means for better health and improved performance.


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Article made possible through the contribution of Biomin.

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