July 23, 2020

Wednesday's Recap: Nonruminant Nutrition Symposium

Nonruminant Nutrition Symposium

 By: Lauren Soranno

The Nonruminant Nutrition Symposium took place on Wednesday, July 22nd.

Due to technical issues, the presentation of the AFIA Award in Nonruminant Nutrition Research to Dr. Charles M. Nyachoti was unable to be seen, but a recording of the full symposium will be available on the ASAS-CSAS-WSASAS Virtual Annual Meeting website. Although Dr. Nyachoti’s  talk was on the various beneficial roles of adding feed enzymes to the diets of nonruminant animals. While feed enzymes help to enhance nutrient utilization, they also have positive effects on the gastrointestinal environment and microbial composition. Dr. Nyachoti discussed a few of these effects such as feed enzymes decrease the amount of non-digested substrates, their products have potential prebiotic effects, may decrease oxidative stress, and enhance the functional capacity of the GI tract. All of these changes impact the gut microbiome in support of bacteria correlated with a healthy gut. Feed enzymes can potentially be used as part of an integrated solution to mitigate gut health challenges in nonruminant animals.

            Dr. Thomas E. Burkey, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, continued the presentations discussing the complexity of the gut microbiome. The microbiome involves the microbial community and their “theatre of activity” that then form ecological niches, making the microbiome very dynamic and prone to change. Dr. Burkey then discussed a few factors that can shape the microbiome such as non-specific host factors and specific host factors as well as factors that influence homeostasis of microbiota such as age, diet, and medication. He stressed that there are lots of factors that need to be taken into account when doing work with the microbiome. Looking more at diet effects, even different types of proteins, animal or plant, impact both the microbial community as a whole as well as specific microbial species. In addition, Dr. Burkey addressed how there are compartment- and amino acid-specific specific interactions relative to the interactive effects of the gut microbes. Each compartment of the GI tract has different abundances of specific microbial species and further there will be specific fermentative metabolites from specific amino acids depending on transit time and the source of amino acids. Moving forward, researchers need to develop models to evaluate and take into context all of these interactive effects of microbiome, host, nutrition, and many other factors.

            Dr. John K. Htoo, director technical support at Evonik Nutrition and Care, concluded the symposium by addressing another potential way to maintain gut health and promote growth of nonruminant animals. Amino acids serve as building blocks for protein synthesis, but they are also involved in immune function to produce acute phase proteins, immunoglobulins, mucins and to serve as precursors for active molecules. Dr. Htoo explained how pigs are often exposed to chronic sub-clinical level of diseases in commercial farms that may lead to immune system stimulation (ISS) that results in a reduction in feed intake, growth, and reproduction. The ISS redirects nutrients away from growth to support the immune system, changing the type of protein synthesis and in turn affecting amino acid requirements at the tissue level. Dr. Htoo briefly explained a number of studies all showing how supplying pigs under ISS with amino acids above the requirement could help mitigate the negative effects of the immune challenge. Overall, he concluded that under sub-clinical conditions, an increased dietary supply of Thr, SAA, Trp, BCAA, Arg, and Gln may be beneficial for maintaining immune and gut barrier function.