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Where is animal microbiome research headed?

22 June 2020

Mike Kogut, research microbiologist with USDA, talked to researchers about the future of the animal microbiome recently at the Animal Microbiome and Nutritional Health Congress in Chicago.

When it comes to the interaction between the gut microbiota and the immune system, the livestock industry tries to compartmentalize it into just the gut. Research shows the products of a healthy gut can help regulate the physiology of the animal as well as organ systems, especially when it comes to the lungs and the brain.

All physiology can be controlled by what we do and how we manipulate the gut and the microbiota, according to Kogut.

“Protection-wise in the disease state, we should be able to theoretically manipulate the gut to change the way the animal responds to an infection elsewhere,” said Kogut.

The entire body is connected to the gut, and the gut can communicate to the other parts of the body and manipulate them. Taking what we've known from the individual components, like the microbiota, the immunity system, and realizing the products they produce, like the metabolites and cytokines, takes it beyond the gut to receptors in the animal’s body that can react. So the gut is the starting point, but the entire body is connected to the gut and can communicate with the other parts of the body and manipulate them.

“By manipulating the gut, we can manipulate the brain, we can change behavior, we can change appetite, we can also decrease feed conversion,” said Kogut. “The farmer's making more money, because the animal's eating less and putting on the same weight. So practically, we have the ability for farmers to make more money and still maintain the health and welfare of the animal.”

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor



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