Fertilization requires successful completion of molecular events taking place at different spatiotemporal scales. Transcriptionally and translationally inactive sperm need to rely on pre-assembled pathways modulated by extracellular signals that traverse the plasma membranes. However, species differences in how sperm respond to them delay the progress toward a comprehensive understanding of how activation of the signaling cascades is coordinated in poultry sperm. In chickens, recent studies have found that membrane rafts are present on the sperm surface and play important roles in regulating multistage fertilization. In this review, we focus on three steps in which membrane alteration plays a key role. The first is post-testicular maturation, in which bird sperm acquire fertilization functions through biochemical changes. The second part of this review concerns membrane regulation of sperm-egg binding and the acrosome reaction. Finally, we extend our discussion to the translation of membrane raft theory into a technical principle for the commercial production and genetic preservation of poultry.
The mucosa of the intestine and oviduct of hens are susceptible to pathogens. Pathogenic infections in the mucosal tissues of laying hens lead to worsened health of the host animal, decreased egg production, and bacterial contamination of eggs. Therefore, better understanding of the mechanisms underlying mucosal barrier function is needed to prevent infection by pathogens. In addition, pathogen infection in the mucosal tissue generally causes mucosal inflammation. Recently, it has been shown that inflammation in the oviduct and intestinal tissue caused by disruption of the mucosal barrier function, can affect egg production. Therefore, it is vitla to understand the relationship between mucosal barrier function and egg production to improve poultry egg production. This paper reviews the studies on (1) oviductal mucosal immune function and egg production, (2) intestinal inflammation and egg production, and (3) improvement of mucosal immune function by probiotics. The findings introduced in this review will contribute to the understanding of the mucosal barrier function of the intestine and oviduct and improve poultry egg production in laying hens.
There has been an upsurge of interest in the phytobiotics coincident with the onset of the potential ban on the use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) in the broiler industry and because many kinds of nutraceuticals play an important role in improving growth performance, feed efficiency, and gut health of broilers. In the previous years, significant biological activities of essential oils (EOs) belonging to phytobiotics were observed, including antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. We found new perspectives on the roles of EOs, particularly extracts from the Apiaceae family, which is one of the largest plant families, in potential replacement of AGPs, and on the chemical composition involved in regulating microorganism activity and oxidative damage. Furthermore, the positive effects of EOs on broiler production and the possible mechanisms inducing the involvement of gut health and growth performance have been studied.
Many behavioral studies and histological analyses of the sense of taste have been conducted in chickens, as it plays an important role in the ingestion of feed. In recent years, various taste receptors have been analyzed, and the functions of fatty acids, umami, and bitter taste receptors in chickens have become clear. In this review, the bitter taste sense in chickens, which is the taste quality by which animals reject poisons, is discussed among a variety of taste qualities. Chickens have taste buds in the palate, the base of the oral cavity, and the root of the tongue. Bitter taste receptors, taste receptor type 2 members 1, 2, and 7 (T2R1, T2R2, and T2R7) are expressed in these tissues. According to functional analyses of bitter taste receptors and behavioral studies, T2R1 and T2R7 are thought to be especially involved in the rejection of bitter compounds in chickens. Furthermore, the antagonists of these two functional bitter taste receptors were also identified, and it is expected that such antagonists will be useful in improving the taste quality of feed materials and poultry drugs that have a bitter taste. Bitter taste receptors are also expressed in extra-oral tissues, and it has been suggested that gastrointestinal bitter taste receptors may be involved in the secretion of gastrointestinal hormones and pathogen defense mechanisms. Thus, bitter taste receptors in chickens are suspected to play major roles in taste sensing and other physiological systems.
Sperm drastically change their flagellar movement in response to the surrounding physical and chemical environment. Testicular sperm are immotile; however, they gain the competence to initiate motility during passage through the male reproductive tract. Once ejaculated, the sperm are activated and promptly initiate motility. Unlike mammals, ejaculated sperm in birds are stored in specialized tubular invaginations referred to as sperm storage tubules (SSTs), located between the vagina and uterus, before fertilization. The resident sperm in the SSTs are in a quiescent state and then re-activated after release from the SSTs. It is thought that avian sperm can undergo motility change from quiescent to active state twice; however, the molecular mechanism underlying sperm motility regulation is poorly understood. In this short review, we summarize the current understanding of sperm motility regulation in male and female bird reproductive tracts. We also describe signal transduction, which regulates sperm motility, mainly derived from in vitro studies.