A method was developed to recover Eimeria spp. oocysts directly from poultry litter and determine which species of Eimeria were present using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based on the ITS1 rDNA sequence. The species composition of Eimeria oocysts was also compared before and after propagation in susceptible chickens to determine if the relative proportion of each species changed after expansion. In samples from two broiler operations, ITS1-PCR was able to detect Eimeria spp. oocysts recovered from litter, with Eimeria acervulina, Eimeria maxima, and Eimeria praecox being the predominant species present therein. Although Eimeria tenella was found in one sample, the other species—Eimeria brunetti, Eimeria necatrix, and Eimeria mitis—were not detected. The species composition as determined by ITS1-PCR did not appear to appreciably alter after expansion in susceptible chickens. The described method represents a rapid means for determining the major Eimeria species in a poultry operation and may be helpful in choosing a particular live oocyst vaccine formulation to protect chickens against coccidiosis.
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Vol. 50 • No. 1