€10m backed EU research project aims at greater insights into animal-microbiota interactions

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Sergey Shulgin
© GettyImages/Sergey Shulgin

Related tags: omics, genomics, microbiota, welfare, pathogen challenges

Animal nutrition and feed additive producer, Biomin, recently announced its involvement in a four-year long, €10m (US$11.9m) EU-backed research consortium effort to address the challenges of pig and poultry production.

The project - 3D’omics - is looking to create new technology to analyze animal-microbiota interactions at the microscale and to produce 3D visualizations.

The initiative involves 13 universities, research institutes and companies across 11 countries and is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation platform. It is led by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Gut microorganisms have a systemic impact on many biological processes of farm animals, and so greater insights into animal-microbiota interactions is recognized as one of the key steps to advance towards more efficient monogastric production, towards more sustainable production and to improve the welfare of pigs and birds, said Antton Alberdi, 3D’omics project coordinator, and assistant professor, Center for Evolutionary Hologenomics, GLOBE Institute, at the University of Copenhagen.

Omics is an emerging field of high-throughput technologies incorporating genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, lipidomics, and metabolomics.

Getting ahead of the game

Biomin says that it has been applying -omics technologies, over many years, to address gut health and performance on-site at pig and poultry commercial operations. It has been leveraging portable sequencing devices and advanced analytics in that respect.

“As we continue to roll out microbiome analysis services for customers in more markets globally, we’re looking, in parallel, five to ten years into the future in terms of technological innovation, and at what these technologies could offer to the industry and our customers,” ​said Dr Christian Kittel, research program director, gut performance, Biomin.

Uncovering the biological metabolic interactions and niche properties that shape an animal’s gut microbial community and host health will have numerous potential applications, including the development of precision solutions to improve animal health, welfare and performance, along with addressing various pathogen challenges, and helping to inform the development of feed formulations, said Dr Mahdi Ghanbari, scientist at Biomin.

The Austrian company's role in the project will include cooperation on a challenge trial using a Biomin multi-species synbiotic product that is designed to promote a beneficial gut microbiota; the animal nutrition specialist will also be involved "in the collection and data analysis of microbiota and feed samples, conducting informative industry sessions and preparing a manuscript on the application of 3D’omics in developing feed formulations,​" a spokesperson told us.

Other players 

Beyond the University of Copenhagen and Biomin, also involved in 3D’omics are the Veterinary University of Vienna (Austria), KU Leuven (Belgium), ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Ben Gurion University (Israel), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway), Center for Genomic Regulation (Spain), Max Delbrück Center (Germany), Aviagen (UK), Norsvin (Norway) Novogene (The Netherlands) and Afecta (Finland).

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