The central hypotheses that drive INTERPLAY are:
- Spatio-temporal kinetics of early colonisation of the neonatal piglet GIT by commensal and potentially pathogenic microbiota drives the dynamics of microbiota composition and activity, intestinal function and host-microbe interaction after birth and later in life
- Sows can affect the co-development of intestinal microbiota and gut function either directly through their genotype, or indirectly through their own microbiota, which they transmit to their offspring at or immediately after birth
- The rearing environment, including postnatal antibiotic treatment, affects the interplay of microbial colonisation and gut function development
- Improved management strategies can be developed based on innovative pre- and probiotics towards sustainable pig production, capitalizing on animal health and welfare, as well as food and consumer safety.
INTERPLAY follows a number of objective-driven lines of research, organized in 8 scientific workpackages, complemented by workpackages focussing on Management and Dissemination & Outreach.
Firstly, a dedicated Toolbox & Knowledge Base for profiling microbiota and GIT function serves the key objectives of INTERPLAY by providing standardized beyond-state-of-the-art technologies.
Within Research Pillar I, INTERPLAY aims to produce knowledge on the dynamics of microbial colonisation of the GI tract (WP2), and its intricate interplay with the development of gastric and lower intestinal function (WP3/4).
Within Research Pillar II, INTERPLAY builds on the knowledge base generated in Pillar I to understand the effect of host genotype (WP5), the rearing environment (WP6), presence of microbial as well as dietary antigens (WP7) and innovative pre- and probiotics-based dietary interventions (WP8) on the co-development of microbiota colonization and GIT function.These investigations are expected to generate novel hypotheses and leads towards sustainable management strategies, ultimately allowing the formulation of guidelines for the rational design of such strategies aiming at improved animal health, welfare and food safety.