Diminishing Role of Antibiotics Expected to Expand Role of Microbiome in Promoting Health

Farmscape for February 24, 2017

A scientist with the University of Saskatchewan suggests, as the livestock industry's reliance on antibiotics diminishes, the role of the microbiome in maintaining health will expand.
The microbiome is a diverse population of bacteria, viruses, yeasts and  archaea, that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract.
As part of research being conducted in association with Swine Innovation Porc scientists are developing feeding strategies designed to enhance the ability of the that population to improve the health of the gastrointestinal tact.
Dr. Andrew Van Kessel, the Head of the Department of Animal and Poultry Science with University of Saskatchewan, says scientists have been developing the tools to get a better handle on who's present.

Clip-Dr. Andrew Van Kessel-University of Saskatchewan:
It's a very complex consortia of different species and different organisms and we're getting good at understanding who's there but we still don't know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys so the work going forward is really still about understanding which organism are contributing positively and which organisms are contributing negatively outside that group of pathogens that we know are bad guys.
We have absolutely demonstrated that there is a connection between the microbiome and the health of the host.
We probably haven't paid much attention to that relationship in the past where we've been able to use antibiotics to control the microbiome, to prevent any pathogen essentially from coming into the system so we've relied on that relationship in the past.
Going forward, in the absence of antibiotics or at least limiting antibiotics to use only when we have a confirmed infection, we have to rely more on other opportunities and that is really about the microbiome and our ability, can we adjust the relationship between the good and the bad and can we develop feeding strategies that predictably improve the performance and health of the pig.

Dr. Van Kessel says challenge is to develop strategies that promote the good at the expense of the bad.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork