Moving from concept to control; use of phages for Campylobacter reduction

The State of Queensland acting through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

  • Project code: PRJ-010208

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Saturday, July 30, 2016

  • Project completion date: Monday, March 2, 2020

  • National Priority: CME-Priority 4-Ensuring food safety of Australian chicken meat


There is a general recognition that poultry are a major source of Campylobacter. While current options to control Campylobacter levels in chickens on the farm are limited, mathematical modelling predicts a two log reduction could lead to 30 fold reduction in human illness (EFSA, 2011). Experimental studies with phages have shown a 0.5 – 2 log reduction in caecal levels, highlighting the potential of phage treatment. With industry-funding, to date, we have established a diverse phage collection, gained an understanding of on-farm Campylobacter dynamics, developed an insect model that allows rapid, cost-effective in vivo screening of phages, established collaborative research relationship with the leading European phage research team, screened a select group of Australian Campylobacter phages in the UK laboratory with access to collaborative work and have started a very limited and focused “farm specific” trial, evaluating a “farm specific” cocktail.

The study will also be carried out with Professor Ian Connerton, (University of Nottingham, UK), an international expert on Campylobacter phages and collaborator with the CRC work.

The current proposal will build on this solid basis of achievements and allow a more universal adoption of phage treatment (as opposed to the farm specific approach we are currently pursuing). To achieve this, there is a need to understand the scientific basis for specific phage-host interaction via targeted laboratory studies (Year 1). Carry out in-vitro and in-vivo studies plus trial carcass spray (laboratory); (Year 2). With an understanding of all critical issues, on-farm trials on live birds will be done (Year 3).


Chicken Meat

Research Organisation

The State of Queensland acting through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Objective Summary

• Assess the relationship between the phages and farm Campylobacter isolates via a series of logical and targeted laboratory based studies

• Evaluate selected phages that may form a cocktail for their suitability based on simple lytic profiles and detailed molecular studies

• Achieve a suitable log reduction of Campylobacter with the possible inclusion of either “active” or “passive” phage therapy strategy, which is assessed in-vitro (micro titre plates) or in-vivo (insect model)

• Based on the knowledge of all of the above develop a cocktail of phages

• Carryout trials on farm raised birds (farm) and on processed carcasses (lab)

• Generate data to support necessary Australian regulatory frame work for the use of bacteriophages as bio-control agents by the Australian Poultry Industry

• Provide the Australian Poultry Industry an efficacious environmentally friendly option to control Campylobacter that will benefit the poultry industry and the consumer