Dynamics of dual infection with Campylobacter jejuni strains in chickens reveals distinct strain-to-strain variation in infection ecology

Gemma Chaloner*, Paul Wigley, Suzanne Humphrey, Kirsty Kemmett, Lizeth Lacharme-Lora, Tom Humphrey, Nicola Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Although multiple genotypes of Campylobacter jejuni may be isolated from the same commercial broiler flock, little is known about the infection dynamics of different genotypes within individuals or their colonization sites within the gut. Single experimental infections with C. jejuni M1 (sequence type 137, clonal complex 45) and C. jejuni 13126 (sequence type 21, clonal complex 21) revealed that 13126 colonized the ceca at significantly higher levels. The dissemination and colonization sites of the two C. jejuni strains then were examined in an experimental broiler flock. Two 33-day-old broiler chickens were infected with M1 and two with 13126, and 15 birds were left unchallenged. Cloacal swabs were taken postinfection to determine the colonization and shedding of each strain. By 2 days postinfection (dpi), 8/19 birds were shedding M1 whereas none were shedding 13126. At 8 dpi, all birds were shedding both strains. At 18 dpi, liver and cecal levels of each isolate were quantified, while in 10 birds they also were quantified at nine sites throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. 13126 was found throughout the GI tract, while M1 was largely restricted to the ceca and colon. The livers of 7/19 birds were culture positive for 13126 only. These data show that 13126 has a distinctly different infection biology than strain M1. It showed slower colonization of the lower GI tract but was more invasive and able to colonize at a high level throughout the GI tract. The finding that C. jejuni strains have markedly different infection ecologies within the chicken has implications for control in the poultry industry and suggests that the contamination risk of edible tissues is dependent on the isolate involved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6366-6372
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number20
Early online date19 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2014


  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • infection ecologies
  • poultry industry
  • contamination risk
  • dual infection


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