Studying the gut microbiome of pigs and poultry in early life

In order to develop more sustainable livestock production systems, the health status of production animals has to be improved. Pre- and probiotics are interesting candidates to enhance health by means of stimulating growth of beneficial gut bacteria and by improving the intestinal barrier. Successful application of such dietary components can result in reduction of antibiotic usage, which will lower the pressure on the emergence of antibiotic resistant microbes. In this project, the emphasis is given on steering the microbiota composition in early life, since this will likely have the largest effect on immunity and gut health of the host animal.

To study the development of the microbiome in early life, (i) pig and chicken in vivo studies will be carried out during which faecal and intestinal samples will be taken. Resulting samples are processed further (ii) by isolating DNA followed by amplifying a 16S ribosomal RNA gene fragment using a PCR step. Microbiota composition analysis will be realized by Illumina HiSeq sequencing of these PCR-amplified fragments. After sequencing, (iii) data is analysed using the Microbiology’s in-house pipeline (NG-Tax) and subsequent analyses using dedicated scripts in R.

(i): in vivo studies

(ii): Molecular work

(iii): Data analysis

In case you wish to join this interdisciplinary project and do your BSc/MSc thesis/internship, please contact me via email and indicate with what part(s) (i, ii and/or iii) you would like to be involved.