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Researchers Work to Harness Beneficial Microbes to Improve Pig Health
Dr. Ben Willing - University of Alberta

Farmscape for September 9, 2021

Researchers working on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc are attempting to harness the beneficial microbes in the gut of the pig to improve herd health.
In an effort to characterise the core microbes associated with pig health, a multi-institutional team of scientists working in partnership with Swine Innovation Porc is examining the microbial population of the gut of the pig.
Dr. Ben Willing, an Associate Professor with the University of Alberta and Canada Research Chair in Microbiology of Nutrigenomics, says beneficial microbes in the gut provide nutrients by metabolising compounds the animal can't on its own and support its immunity.

Clip-Dr. Ben Willing-University of Alberta:
Largely we are in the data generation mode so we are just getting our first set of data as far as identifying microbial communities that are there.
By the end of this year, we will have collected what is our targeted cohort of pigs across the country.
Over the next year we're going to have the data in hand and we'll be able to do the analysis to identify what is the core microbiome of the pig, so what are the normal microbes found in every pig that you would come across and then start to make some associations with those microbes and performance, whether it's a good performance or poor performance.
A key outcome of that is we can potentially use that as a diagnostic in the future.
If someone is having issues with production, they can look at the microbiome of their pigs and see whether that's an important contributing factor and to say maybe they need to start modifying strategies related to microbial manipulation in those animals, so whether that's bringing in healthy stock with healthy microbiomes and introducing that or trying to control for particular adverse microbial members.

Dr. Willing says the hope is to identify beneficial microbes that can be used to further this technology.
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