Main research question/goal
This PhD project focuses on the development of well-balanced feeds for sows (including an adequate amount of methyl donors) that ensure a better evolution of the embryos (development, growth, viability of the piglets). Placental and fetal growth is not only influenced by genetics and environment, but also by the epigenetic state in which DNA methylation plays an important role. We expect that methylation of certain genes will affect their expression and this determines the development and growth of the embryos. The goal of this research is to study the variation of the methylation potential (MP) in the sow during the different production phases and to try to avoid periods with an insufficient amount of methyl donors by adding those to the feed.Research approach
The main hypothesis in this research is that in some periods during embryogenesis, characterized by a higher request for methyl donors (needed for DNA methylation in the piglets), the amount of methyl donors in the sow might be insufficient. We will study the fluctuation of the methylation potential in the sow during a period of 24 hours, but also during the different production phases. We will define the efficiency of some methyl donors empirically (with feed trials) when included in the sow’s feed.Relevance/Valorisation
If the methylation potential of the sow can be influenced by the composition of the feed in such a way that it will improve development, growth and viability of the piglets, this will have some serious implications for sow husbandry. Furthermore, the results can offer some benefits for the feed industry and their suppliers. They can use this knowledge for the composition of better-balanced sow feeds that can be applied in a more efficient way.
ILVO - Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en voedingsonderzoek
Ugent - Fac. Diergeneeskunde