Farmscape for July 6, 2016
A researcher with the University of Saskatchewan says bacteria contained in the gastrointestinal tract can play a role in pig heath equivalent to that of the liver or kidney.
Swine Innovation Porc has identified developing alternatives to antibiotics as a key research priority and is looking to the microbiome of the gut as one potential tool to help accomplish that.
Dr. Andrew Van Kessel, the head of the Department of Animal and Poultry Science with the University of Saskatchewan, explains the microbiome, the bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract, is a diverse abundant community that has a huge biological impact.
Clip-Dr. Andrew Van Kessel-University of Saskatchewan:
We're in a place where we're trying to minimize our utilization of antibiotics, to rely on prudent use of antibiotics, therapeutic treatment of confirmed infections.
As a result we are interested in understanding how can manipulate the microbiome in order to better protect pigs against infections.
If we can do that with non-antibiotic means then we have the opportunity to potentially improve pig health.
There's probably two primary functions.
One is this consortia of many different species of bacteria occupy all the environmental niches within the gastrointestinal tract in such a way that, if a pathogen does come along, there's no niche available for them.
There's no environment that they're best suited to compete with those normal microbiota to take hold and cause an infection for you.
The other part of it that we're becoming increasingly aware of is that the host, our gastrointestinal tract, also responds to these commensal bacteria, responds to the kinds of products that these bacteria are generating and that affects our immune response.
It makes us more capable of protecting against a pathogen should one enter that environment and attach to the epithelium and potentially cause disease.
Dr. Van Kessel notes the microbiome has been referred to as an additional organ, equivalent to the liver or kidney with respect to the kind of biological impact it has.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.
*Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork