Do gut microbes promote migratory fattening in shorebirds?

This animal science honours projects aims to determine if gut microbes promote migratory fattening in shorebirds, using commercial broiler chickens as a model.

Chicken, Roseworthy campus

Commensal microflora have been shown to have a role in metabolism and fattening in humans and bears, among other models.

Migratory birds undergo rapid fuelling prior to migration, with some species even doubling in mass in about 10 days prior to migration departure. The potential role of microbes in this rapid fattening phase is unknown.

We will inoculate young chickens with the gut microflora community of a fuelling shorebird and measure the effects on weight gain, body composition, metabolism, and gut morphology.

The honours student will focus on the effects on metabolism and gut morphology, working in a team of researchers from Roseworthy and Deakin University in Geelong.

This information will be incorporated into a larger project looking at gut microflora profiles of shorebirds, and their role in growth, migration, and susceptibility to disease. It also links into a project looking at the role of commensal bacteria in the health and productivity of poultry.

You will gain lab skills relevant to health, animal science, and comparative physiology, and utilise theoretical constructs in evolutionary ecology.

Key methodology: You will use histology to characterise the gut morphology of treated and untreated chickens, and measure fat metabolites and enzymes in liver and blood tissue.

Supervisors

Tagged in Honours projects - Animal science, Honours projects - Ecology and environmental science, Honours projects - Rebecca Forder, Honours in Animal Science subtheme - Animal and veterinary bioscience