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Final Report Summary - INTERPLAY (Interplay of microbiota and gut function in the developing pig – Innovative avenues towards sustainable animal production)

Low input farming occurs under non-SPF (specific pathogen free) conditions. The European ban on in-feed antibiotics exposes the piglets to a higher microbial pressure. The postnatal priming of piglets with a diverse microbiota may affect the development of the piglet’s host-defense and gut function. By reversal, the piglets developing host-defense may affect the development of the gastro-intestinal (GI) microbiota. Moreover, this intricate interplay between gut microbiota and its host during the early phases of life is expected to also affect animal health and performance later in life.
The gut microbiome is an immensely diverse ecosystem that has co-evolved with its host. Recent research on microbe-host interactions has provided novel insights into the role of commensal microbes in several physiological processes, ranging from epithelial barrier development to immune development as well as neurological aspects. Nevertheless, we only start to understand molecular mechanisms of the host microbe cross-talk. Recent conceptual as well as technological advances have set the stage for the integrated application of a complementary set of high throughput approaches for the comprehensive profiling of GIT microbiota composition and functionality as well as the animal’s intestinal function.
To this end, in a multidisciplinary consortium of 12 public and private partners from across and beyond Europe with complementary expertise in gut microbiomics, immunology, physiology, animal genomics and nutrition, INTERPLAY has used an integrated approach towards a sound understanding of the interaction of early colonization of the intestine and gut function development. This knowledge can be exploited for the identification of innovative management strategies that address host genotype as well as nutritional means to provide a framework for sustainable animal production at high food and consumer safety and improved animal health and welfare. The strategic aim of the research carried out in the framework of the INTERPLAY project was to contribute to maintain European pig production in a worldwide leading position for the implementation of sustainable management strategies that promote optimal animal health and welfare, alongside food and consumer safety. INTERPLAY has generated a knowledge base needed to support the Common Agricultural Policy objectives aiming to provide sustainable development of agriculture.
Dissemination is considered to be an integral task of the project and relevant stakeholders were involved from the very beginning and in public dialogue. The INTERPLAY project provided at the European level a bottom-up approach to help the process of consensus-forming around the development and use of new scientific and technological developments in support of sustainable farming systems. To this end, a public website has been set up allowing easy access to information concerning project objectives and partners from outside of the consortium. Furthermore, a stakeholder forum facilitated and strengthen the possibilities not only for the interactive dissemination of project results into the scientific community, but also to further support one of the key objectives of INTERPLAY, namely to provide the necessary understanding for the rational design of improved management strategies towards more sustainable animal production.
In addition to that, results generated by INTERPLAY partners were disseminated through scientific and popular publications, participation in a large number of conferences, workshops and other events as well as through two international workshops.A first international scientific workshop was held at the premises of partner 7 (Nanjing Agricultural University) in order to foster the scientific dialogue with Asia. A second workshop geared more towards industrial stakeholders was organized at the end of the INTERPLAY project, as a specific session at one of the major conferences in animal production, EAAP, in August 2013.

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