New gene to gut bug communication breakthrough

Bugs rule. Great genetics can mean great gut bug communication in farm animals and other mammals and can lead to greater productivity and other welfare benefits.

This news, published in ‘Frontiers in Genetics’, has excited the science world and is seen as a first step in a range of future breakthroughs set to benefit livestock and their owners.

The study was a collaboration between Camden-based independent research company Scibus, The University of Sydney, Montana State University (Dr Jennifer Thomson) and the CSIRO (Dr Chris McSweeney and Dr Stuart Denman).

The report confirms suspicions that differences in the genetics of mammals influence the responses of gut bacteria and produce markedly different responses to nutritional challenges.

Scibus founder and managing director Prof Ian Lean described the research outcomes as ‘exciting’ in that it established the genetic makeup of mammals influenced the outcomes of activity by gut bacteria.

“Picking the genetic makeup of a mammal will allow us to pick better animals and eventually produce the ‘optimal’ animal.”

“Key factors influencing the success of the project were the deep belief and commitment of the scientists from different organisations to a project that had great scientific merit, but modest funding.”

He said the project provided answers for farmers and future directions that would help both reduce disease and improve efficiency of production.

“It also provides insights that may be relevant to other species, providing pathways to improved gut health.”

He said that the study was an excellent example of the type of project that could be delivered by collaboration among scientist groups.

Lead researcher Dr Helen Golder developed this work following her PhD studies at the University of Sydney.

She said cattle represented an excellent model to help understand communication between the mammal and gut bacteria and how this influenced gut function.

The work was supported by all the organisations involved and also received funding from a number of public and private sources.

The paper is receiving international attention, Dr Elliot Block, Research Fellow for US Company Church and Dwight (Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition) commended the work saying ‘this study provides a clear direction to new discoveries that will benefit many species.’ 

The group is currently working on deeper understandings of rumen function in cattle and the role of mammal and bacterial genetics.

Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan welcomed the report and praised the work of the small team of dedicated scientists involved, illustrating the vital importance of collaborative academic research.

“These findings have enormous favourable implications for the livestock industry and for dairy producers in particular and it is pleasing to see the work of Dairy Connect Director Prof Ian Lean acknowledged with his colleagues,” he said.


More information:
Ian J Lean BVSc, PhD (Calif), DVSc (Syd), MANZCVS
MD Scibus
Office: +61(0)246558532
Fax: +61(0)246558501
Mobile: +61(0)408280802