Bacteria detected by fluorescent in situ hybridization. A. Hybridization of the rickettsial probe (Rick_Cy3) to Rickettsia australis, cultured in Vero cells and injected into sterile porcine lung tissue. B. Hybridization of the rickettsial probe (Rick_FITC) to R. australis processed as in A.

Microbial ecology

The research is concentrated on studies of bacterial communities and the interaction between bacteria and the immune system of the host animal. These include the bacterial communities that animals and humans naturally possess in the gastrointestinal system.

Pigs and cattle often experience problems with infections and diarrhea in the gastrointestinal tract in early life - both during the first days after birth and when they are weaned. If these problems can be minimized or avoided, one can enhance animal welfare while reducing economic losses and lower consumption of antibiotics and zinc. The gains from the research can also be substantial when looking at poultry and fish.

Pre-and probiotics

The researchers are working on prevention of gastrointestinal infections by adding prebiotics and probiotics to the feed. By strengthening or adding beneficial bacteria, a robust natural intestinal microbiota can be obtained that will protect the animal against infections by pathogenic bacteria.

Today we know that the feed composition in interaction with the natural intestinal microbes and the animal's immune system play an important role in establishing a robust gastrointestinal function. This also has implications for how predisposed animals are to getting an infection.

The research therefore focuses on the interaction between the pathogenic microorganism, the l intestinal microbiota, and the immune system. In order to get the best result, we collect and use knowledge and technologies from microbial ecology, intestinal pathology, and immunology.

Pigs as animal model

The pig is a good animal model for human gastrointestinal function. Therefore, knowledge of the pig’s gut microbiota contributes significantly to human research, where there is great interest in the role of microorganisms in relation to intestinal health and infection.

The activities of the group include development and implementation of new molecular biology techniques such as advanced microscopy, for example confocal and microdissection microscopy for use in research and diagnostics.

18 OCTOBER 2018