Campylobacter jejuni frequently colonizes the avian intestine. Recent evidence suggests that this organism can also colonize the oviduct of laying hens. However, the source and role of this colonization are unknown. Isolates from the ceca, cloacae, and oviducts of 11 laying hens in three intensive egg-producing flocks were genotyped by Fla typing with the restriction fragment length polymorphism of the polymerase chain reaction product of the flaA and flaB genes (fla typing) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). A diversity in fla types and PFGE types was observed within and between flocks. Individual birds could be colonized by different genotypes at various intestinal and oviduct sites. However, the oviduct of individual birds appeared to be colonized by only one genotype at the time of sampling. In two birds, matching isolates investigated from the intestinal and reproductive tracts were genotypically identical but different from those oviduct isolates found in other birds in the same flock. Interestingly, not all cecal isolates appeared to be equally able to colonize the oviduct. These results suggest that oviduct colonization may result from ascending infection via the cloaca and that some strains of C. jejuni may be better adapted than others to oviduct colonization.
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