A century of publications in the Poultry Science journal is celebrated with Centennial papers. It is relevant, therefore, to explore trace mineral (TM) research with an emphasis on manganese and selected aspects of skeletal development. Some of the initial observations on the topic appeared in the earliest volumes of our journal. Published studies in the late 1920’s and 1930’s confirmed the importance of the diet and unidentified organic (i.e., vitamins) and inorganic nutrients (i.e., TM) relative to skeletal development. The early nutrition research emphasized requirement studies, the search for unknown factors to alleviate recognized deficiencies, and lastly important nutrient interactions, especially in the gut. This review will discuss TM research with an emphasis on manganese (Mn). Some of the fundamental discoveries on the mechanisms underlying embryonic and post-hatch skeletal development led directly to research directed at the role of Mn in the synthesis of the epiphyseal matrix. The TM research agenda today is considerably different with respect to all trace nutrients and is largely driven by gut health, antibiotic free production, food safety and environmental outcomes. A significant proportion of the published research over the last 2 decades has focused on the form (i.e., organic, inorganic) of a given TM relative to a given physiologic or production response under the pretext that modern commercial genotypes and production realities have changed considerably since the last NRC publication (NRC, 1994). If one closely reviews the more recent scientific literature, however, it could be argued that the term “trace mineral requirement” is often a misnomer. Many of the TM levels recommended or in use today are not the result of quantifiable requirement studies but are often based on efficacy comparisons with the different organic and inorganic forms of commercially available TM.
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