Project Number: 8042-31630-001-00
Start Date: Jul 26, 2012
End Date: Jul 25, 2017
Variability in growth rate between littermates within a production group leads to inherent inefficiencies in production of lean quality pork. This research will identify physiological mechanisms that contribute to piglet growth rate with the overarching goal of identifying markers predictive of growth rate to treat piglets of normal birth weight that, when left untreated, will exhibit slow growth. The research addresses four issues: 1) identification of plasma markers predictive for growth performance; 2) mechanisms of action for these markers and their relationship to growth rate; 3) identification of key physiological mechanisms modulating preweaning growth in critical metabolic organs; and 4) application of these markers as screens for use by industry and for use in an intervention strategy to improve performance of underachieving piglets. Plasma proteins will be identified that differ in concentration between slow and fast growing littermates and enzyme-linked immunosorbant assays (ELISA) for these proteins will be developed to identify the best predictors of growth rate. Functional analyses utilizing in vitro models will evaluate the mechanisms of action for these growth-related marker proteins in metabolically important tissues. Comparative genomic/proteomic analysis will be performed to elucidate mechanisms modulating preweaning growth in skeletal muscle, small intestine, and liver. Pathway analysis will examine relationships between the growth-related marker proteins and these physiological mechanisms. Lastly, additional swine populations will be surveyed with the ELISAs to complete development of the growth-related marker screen. Intervention strategies will then be developed to improve the growth rate of piglets predicted to underachieve.