Studies of cells, DNA, gene expression and microorganisms – microbiota – in the gut system may indicate whether or not an animal thrives on a particular diet. At NMBU’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine pathologists and microbiologists collaborate to develop a model. The aim is to help predict the effects of various feed ingredients on the animal’s health.
Health Effect Model
– The unique factor here is how we combine various research disciplines to study different aspects of gut health in individual animals, not only in animal populations, NMBU professor Charles Press says.
The devil is in the details
The various processes taking place in the intestine of an animal are extremely complex. What appears when you look at the animal gut as a whole may look quite different when peering through the microscope. In the laboratory, Foods of Norway researchers are digging into the tiny details of defense cells, microorganisms, DNA and gene expressions in specific areas of the bowel.
– The research approach of studying the gut of individual animals in detail enables us to reveal information and connections which would have been overlooked without this combination of research expertise, NMBU researcher and veterinary pathologist Caroline Piercey Åkesson says.
In the intestine, there is a symbiotic relationship between the host and the microbes. The microbes and different cells of the gut crosstalk by sending different signals to each other. Footprints of the signals passed between the cells and microbiota can tell us something about gut health. Different feeds will affect the composition of the microbiota and the cells of the gut.
NMBU professor Henning Sørum thinks the development of a common method created by microbiologists and pathologists working closely together is an important research step.
Furthermore, the knowledge exchange that takes place in Foods of Norway between Campus Ås and Campus Adamstuen is important.
– As microbiologists and pathologists, our focus at Adamstuen is on disease, whereas many of the Foods of Norway researchers at Ås focus more on animal nutrition and production. The mutual knowledge exchange that is possible thanks to Foods of Norway’s multidisciplinary research approach is invaluable, Sørum concludes.