INTERPLAY - Interplay of microbiota and gut function in the developing pig

INTERPLAY stands for the Interplay of microbiota and gut function in the developing pig - Innovative avenues towards sustainable animal production.
In a multidisciplinary consortium of 12 public and private partners from across and beyond Europe with complementary expertise in gut microbiomics, immunology, physiology, animal genomics and nutrition, INTERPLAY uses an integrated approach towards a sound understanding of the interaction of early colonization of the intestine and gut function development. This knowledge will be exploited for the identification of innovative management strategies that address host genotype as well as nutritional means to provide a framework for sustainable animal production at high food and consumer safety and improved animal health and welfare.

Low input farming occurs under non-SPF (specific pathogen free) conditions. The European ban on in-feed antibiotics exposes the piglets to a higher microbial pressure. The postnatal priming of piglets with a diverse microbiota may affect the development of the piglet’s host-defense and gut function. By reversal, the piglets developing host-defense may affect the development of the gastro-intestinal (GI) microbiota. Moreover, this intricate interplay between gut microbiota and its host during the early phases of life is expected to also affect animal health and performance later in life.

The gut microbiome is an immensely diverse ecosystem that has co-evolved with its host. Recent research on microbe-host interactions has provided novel insights into the role of commensal microbes in several physiological processes, ranging from epithelial barrier development to immune development as well as neurological aspects. Nevertheless, we only start to understand molecular mechanisms of the host microbe cross-talk.

Recent conceptual as well as technological advances have set the stage for the integrated application of a complementary set of high throughput approaches for the comprehensive profiling of GIT microbiota composition and functionality as well as the animal’s intestinal function.


INTERPLAY aims at understanding the interaction between early microbial colonisation of the gastrointestinal tract of pigs, and the development of gut function, and its implications for health and welfare throughout life.

The strategic aim of INTERPLAY is to provide the necessary knowledge base to place European livestock production in a worldwide leading position for the implementation of sustainable management strategies that aim at optimal animal health and welfare, and food and consumer safety.

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