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Effects of Radix dichroae extract supplementation on growth performance, oocysts output and gut microbiota in growing lambs with coccidiosis

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Coccidiosis is an intestinal protozoan disease of sheep, that causes substantial economic losses in the industry due to its intestinal protozoan origins. Many anti-protozoan drugs including ionophores, triazines, and sulfonamides have been widely used to treat sheep coccidiosis. Still, anticoccidial resistance and drug residues in edible tissues have prompted an urgent search for alternatives. In this study, the anti-coccidial effectiveness of the Radix dichroae extract was compared to that of the conventional anti-coccidial drug diclazuril. Here, eighteen 45-day-old lambs naturally-infected with Eimeria spp. were randomly allocated in three groups: control group, Radix dichroae extract group and diclazuril group. The results showed that the body weight gain (BWG) during the treatment and withdrawal periods was considerably improved in the coccidiosis-infected sheep treated with Radix dichroae extract and diclazuril compared to the control group, respectively. Additionally, the Radix dichroae extract and diclazuril had fewer oocysts per gram (OPG) than the control group, showing similar anti-coccidial effects on days 14, 21, 28, 35 and 78, respectively. Furthermore, Radix dichroae extract and diclazuril treatment altered the structure and composition of gut microbiota, promoting the relative abundance of Actinobacteriota, Firmicutes, Alistipes, and Bifidobacterium, while decreasing the abundance of Bacteroidota, Marinilaceae, Helicobacteraceae, and Prevotella. Moreover, Spearman’s correlation analysis further revealed a correlation between the OPG and BWG and gut microorganisms. Collectively, the results indicated that Radix dichroae extract had similar anti-coccidial effects as diclazuril, and could regulate gut microbiota balance in growing lambs.

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Data Availability

The bacterial 16 S rRNA sequencing data obtained from the fecal have been deposited in the NCBI Sequence Read Archive (SRA) database under accession number PRJNA947373.


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This study was supported by the National Modern Agriculture Industry Technology System (No. CARS-38), the Scientific and Technological Support Project for Ecological Environment Protection and High-quality Development of the Yellow River Basin in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (No. 2021BEF02026), and the Special Support Fund for High-level Talents and skills improvement of Henan Agricultural University (No. 30501374 and SYS2023T08).

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Authors and Affiliations



Pan Chen: Data curation, Formal analysis, Visualization, Writing – original draft. Shijie Li: Methodology, Data curation, Investigation. Lijun Zheng: Data curation, Methodology, Validation, Investigation. Zhanming Wang: Data curation, Methodology. Yanfeng He and Kaili Liu: Data analysis, Investigation. Manman Li and Yingmin Wang: Sample prepare, site resources. Aftab Shaukat: Writing – review & editing. Senyang Li: Investigation. Shucheng Huang: Funding acquisition, Supervision, Resources, Writing – review & editing. Fuchun Jian: Funding acquisition, Supervision, Resources. All authors reviewed the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Shucheng Huang or Fuchun Jian.

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All sheep experiments followed the animal welfare guidelines of Henan Agricultural University (Zhengzhou, China) (Permit No: 17–0126).

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The authors declare no competing or financial interests.

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Chen, P., Li, S., Zheng, L. et al. Effects of Radix dichroae extract supplementation on growth performance, oocysts output and gut microbiota in growing lambs with coccidiosis. Vet Res Commun 48, 279–290 (2024).

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