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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Research Project #427098

Research Project: Reducing Animal Stress and the Incidence or Prevalence of Human Pathogens through Enhanced Gastrointestinal Microbial and Immune Functions in Farm Animals

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Project Number: 5020-32000-012-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 1, 2014
End Date: Aug 13, 2017

Objective 1: Determine effects of stressors or stress hormones in neonatal swine on GI microbial populations, GALT and systemic immune function to enhance disease resistance. Objective 2: Determine efficacy of interventions in feed or water to mitigate weaning stress thus enhancing intestinal health by improved microbiota and GALT functions.

Development of the gastro-intestinal (GI) microbial population is crucial to the maturation of the neonatal immune system and prevention of disease. Neonatal stress influences early microbial and immune tissue programming which has both immediate and long lasting effects on health of animals. Keeping animals free from colonization with common causes of neonatal enteric disease, Salmonella and enteropathogenic Escherichia coli, post-weaning will decrease piglet mortality and morbidity and reduce concern from a human pathogen and pre-harvest food safety perspective. We hypothesize that animals with a healthy GI tract are more likely to remain free from those pathogens later in life. The goal of this research is to uncover the relationships among stressors (naturally occurring or production stressors) and development of GI microbial population and immunological system from birth until after weaning and to identify strategies to avoid or reduce GI colonization by pathogens during neonatal development. To accomplish our objectives, multi-disciplinary approaches will be utilized to determine the basic interactions among stress hormones, GI microbial populations, and leukocytes; ex vivo and in vivo studies will be used to assess natural occurrences (environment) or management practices that induce stress; and the impact of probiotics on reducing the effects of these stressors on the developing GI microbial populations and neonatal immunity. Novel dietary modulators will be tested; some that target immunity and some that target GI microbial populations. Through these approaches we aim to define how we can effectively modulate the intestinal microbiota and immunity to create a healthy GI tract and gut-associated lymphoid tissues.