2014 - 2017

Alternative antimicrobials from chicken blood

Principal Investigator: Max Hincke, University of Ottawa
Collaborators: Bruce Rathgeber, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Sayed Sattar, University of Ottawa; Simon Lemaire, University of Ottawa; Franco Pagotto, Health Canada; Sandra Ramirez-Arcos, Canadian Blood Services
Status: Completed


To purify and validate poultry histones purified from red blood cells as an alternative antimicrobial agent, in order to increase the value of abattoir blood for the turkey, chicken broiler and layer (spent-hen) industries.


Antibiotics are used in animal agriculture to improve: health and welfare of animals, meat quality, the economic efficiency of growth and production, and public health.  However, repeated bacterial exposure to antibiotics has led to the development of bacterial resistance mechanisms rendering current antibiotics less effective.   Efforts are underway to reduce and eliminate antibiotics from domestic animal feed, and one approach is to replace antibiotics in animal feed with antimicrobial alternatives. Studies have shown that histones purified from chicken liver and ovaries were shown to be antimicrobial. Poultry blood uniquely contains red blood cells, which have a nucleus with DNA and histones, in addition to hemoglobin. Therefore, chicken red blood cell histones may have antimicrobial properties, suggesting that antimicrobial compounds with commercial value could be extracted from chicken blood. Chicken blood is a by-product of poultry slaughter, and blood in the waste stream greatly increases the biological oxygen demand, with severe environmental impact. It is preferable to collect blood from slaughter operations for value-added uses. The overall goal of this project is to purify the antimicrobial components in chicken histones and determine their potential applications.


$192,800 (AAFC/CPRC $174,800*, Tom Henderson Custom Meat Cutting $9,000 (in-kind), Laplante Poultry Farm $9,000 (in-kind))


*This research was part of the Poultry Science Cluster 2 which was supported by AAFC as part of Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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