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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #361726

Research Project: Antibiotic Alternatives for Controlling Foodborne Pathogens and Disease in Poultry

Location: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research

Title: Microbial endocrinology: Why the evolutionary-based integration of microbiology and neurobiology matters in the examination of the intersection of animal nutrition and epigenetics

item Lyte, Joshua - Josh
item LYTE, MARK - Iowa State University

Submitted to: Animal Nutrition Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/22/2019
Publication Date: 3/22/2019
Citation: Lyte, J.M., Lyte, M. 2019. Microbial endocrinology: Why the evolutionary-based integration of microbiology and neurobiology matters in the examination of the intersection of animal nutrition and epigenetics. Animal Nutrition Conference Proceedings. p. 78.

Interpretive Summary: It is increasingly being recognized that the chemicals that make up much of the nervous system of animals are also made and recognized by microbes. This means that microbes and the animals in which they reside have a means of communicating with each other. This field of study has come to be known as microbial endocrinology. Epigenetics, which examines how factors outside of the genetic code itself may influence function, is a point of interaction between microbiota and host. Epigenetic regulation of host and microbial neuroendocrine-immune related genes then is an important consideration within microbial endocrinology, as this examines how environmental influences such as diet and nutrition can causally-link host and microbiota with major implications for host health. As significant interest exists in understanding how the microbiota and nutrition can beneficially affect the health of food production animals, including poultry, swine, and cattle, it is important to examine the epigenetic relationship between nutrition, host, and microbiota. This manuscript, which is part of the international Animal Nutrition Conference of Canada 2019, examines the role of nutritional epigenetics in food production animals through the lens of microbial endocrinology. This manuscript provides important and novel perspectives on how microbial endocrinology may allow food animal producers to harness nutritional epigenetics to positively affect host-microbe interaction to causally benefit poultry, swine, cattle, and other food production animals.

Technical Abstract: Advancements in understanding the importance of bi-directional communication between host and microbiome stand to redefine the relationship between animal nutrition and epigenetics. Microbial endocrinology, the intersection of neurobiology and microbiology, has demonstrated that neuroendocrine-immune axes are major hubs of host-microbiome crosstalk, and potentially programmable by nutrition. That host and microbiome can possess the same genes and produce structurally identical neurochemicals highlights a microbial endocrinological role for epigenetic regulation of host-microbe neuroendocrine-immune crosstalk. Animal foods also contain many of the same neurochemicals found in the host and microbiota. Thus, all three elements, host, microbe and nutrition, interact. Moreover, host and bacterial metabolites may regulate expression of host or bacterial neuroendocrine genes to epigenetically affect such interaction. Discussion will also include how neurochemical-containing foods fed to animals can affect both animal and microbiota. As environmental stressors can affect gut health, this paper will additionally examine how microbial endocrinology can help frame investigations seeking to isolate the role of bacterial metabolites in mediating protective epigenetic effects on animal gut health in real-world conditions. Finally, the effects of dietary micronutrients on gut epithelial DNA methylation and intestinal inflammation will be contextualized within microbial endocrinology and relevance to animal health. As we are at the forefront of understanding nutritionally-driven epigenetic plasticity of animal neuroendocrine-immune systems within the context of host-microbiome interaction, microbial endocrinology stands to provide strong conceptual and methodological frameworks to identify novel targets at the intersection of animal nutrition and epigenetics of value to the animal production industry.