Except for the important role coccidia have as predisposing factors of necrotic enteritis, the role parasites play in the dynamics of a healthy microbiota of chickens is not well explored. This review describes the interactions of relevant intestinal parasites of chickens with bacteria.
Infection with Eimeria spp. favor the growth of Clostridium perfringens and suppress the growth of many other bacteria by increasing viscosity and passage time of the ingesta, and by causing lesions to the intestinal mucosa that improve the availability of nutrients for C. perfringens. Conversely, there are indications that bacteria influence the course of disease after infections with Eimeria spp. Not much is known about intestinal cryptosporidiosis in chickens, but results in mice show that the intestinal microbiota induces some resistance against infection with Cryptosporidium parvum and that the innate immune response triggered by infections with cryptosporidia might have an effect on other intestinal microbes. Histomonas meleagridis depend on bacteria in vitro, and in vivo it will cause lesions in chickens only in the presence of bacteria. Blastocystis spp. are very common in chickens, but there is no information about interactions with bacteria. In humans, there is evidence of the correlation of the detection of Blastocystis and changes in the intestinal microbiota. There are indications of interactions between Ascaridia galli and various bacteria in chickens and Ascaridia spp. of mammals are known to produce various types of antimicrobial molecules. However, often the underlying mechanisms of these interactions between parasites and bacteria remain unknown and only correlations but not causation can be established.