July 23, 2020

Tuesday's Recap: Horse Species Symposium

Horse Species Symposium

By: Dr. Emily Taylor

Awardee Talk: Equine Science: A community that grew – Dr. Robert Coleman

Dr. Robert Coleman is the recipient of the 2020 Equine Science Award and began his presentation discussing the changes that have occurred to the Equine industry over the last 100 years. The use of horses in agriculture has declined, and with that, activities related to horses at land grand universities. As sport and recreation uses of horses increased, so did the need for research, teaching, and extension. In the 1960s the Equine Nutrition and Physiology Society was established with the purpose to facilitate effective communications between those who could use the information.

Dr. Coleman further discussed how society has grown with the addition of graduate and undergraduate research. It has become, and still is, a growing community! Please congratulate Dr. Coleman on his award and check out his acceptance video here.

The Gut Microbiome and its Influence on Cognition and Mental Health: From Zebrafish to Horses – Dr. Aaron Ericsson, University of Missouri

Dr. Ericsson began the presentation discussing microbial communities that colonize the gastrointestinal tract of vertebrates. They live in symbiosis with their host, providing a wide array of functions that offer benefits to the superorganism. Intuitively, if changes to the microbial communities occur, there could be deleterious effects on the host. Furthermore, many associations between gut inflammatory conditions and dysbiosis have been made.

An array of data was presented in a range of host species including zebrafish, rodents, and horses, demonstrating the influence of the gut-brain axis on behavior, and physical and mental health. Dr. Ericsson hopes to provide a new appreciation for the physiological, and perhaps clinical, influence of the gut microbiota, and implications for clinical practices such as antibiotic usage and feeding changes.

Microbial origins in the developmental programming of offspring health – Dr. Eldin Jašarević, University of Maryland School of Medicine  

It is well known that stress and malnutrition of the dam can cause risk for offspring metabolic, cardiovascular, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Maternal microbiome has also been linked to the effects of maternal health and infant development during pregnancy and beyond. In addition, stress also has been shown to alter maternal microbiota. Dr. Jašarević discussed a newly developed maternal microbiota transplantation method in which embryonic day 18.5 mouse pups were delivered by cesarean section, preventing natural colonization.

Early life factors shaping gut development and lifelong disease risk – Dr. Adam Moeser, Michigan State University

Dr. Moeser began his presentation discussing the gastrointestinal development during 3-4 months postnatal. Some aspects of early life gut development are genetic, however, there is still a large portion of development and long-term function that can be significantly modified during this period via host and environmental influences. Systemic chronic inflammatory and debilitating diseases in humans and animals have been linked to stress or adversity during early critical periods of development.

The goal of Dr. Moeser’s presentation was to provide a biological framework for understanding how early life environmental host factors such as stress and biological sex can alter the gastrointestinal development and risk of disease throughout life. He discussed how changes in gut development might increase the risk of diseases such as metabolic disease, functional/inflammatory bowel disorders, and neurobehavioral disorders.

Understanding the role of the fecal bacterial microbiota in equine colic – Dr. Dipti Pitta, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Pitta began discussing how the microbiota within the hindgut of the horse contributes to immune system stimulation, protection against harmful pathogens and toxins, and regulation of gene expression within the host. As discussed in previous presentations, many factors can alter or change the microbiota communities within the gastrointestinal tracts. Many of these can also lead to complications within the gastrointestinal tract such as colitis and colic.

The research that Dr. Pitta presented compared the microbial communities' role in colic in horses. It was shown that the colic in horses induces changes in specific bacterial populations along with generalized changes that are confounded with many other factors. Further researches are needed to better define the association of recurrent colic and the intestinal microbiota.