ESR1: What are IUGR pigs? – phenotypic and metabolic differentiation
The selection for hyperprolific sows led to an inadequacy between the number of fetus and the uterine capacity. This phenomenon results in impaired placental development and therefore impaired development of some fetuses. The so-called Intra Uterine Growth Retarded (IUGR) piglets display greater early postnatal mortality and morbidity risks, impaired postnatal growth, impaired carcass and meat quality traits. From an animal welfare as well as from a production efficiency point of view IUGR piglets are problematic. The aim of this project is to develop objective measures to identify IUGR piglets using image analysis as well as metabolome and microbiomes approaches.
- Characterise phenotypically and metabolically the IUGR subpopulation and identify their specific nutritional needs in early life;
- Define a machine learning model to describe the IUGR subpopulation thanks to the analysis of piglets' pictures;
- Identify IUGR specific physiological traits using a metabolomics based approach.
- Computed tomography - scan imaging to non-invasively assess the piglets’ brain: liver w/w ratio will be used as the gold standard to identify IUGR;
- 3D-pictures of newborn piglets will be taken to measure morphological parameters;
- A machine-learning model will be developed to correlate the brain: liver weight ratio to visual characteristics of head shape, body form and other possible traits.
- Phenotypic cut-off values for IUGR pigs defined.
- Differentiation based on the metabolomics profile of IUGR and ́normal ́ pigs established.
- At: CSEM (3 mo); build a Machine Learning Model based to diagnose IUGR at birth;
- At: UFA Bühl (3 mo); test and validate the Machine Learning Model;
- At: UNIBO (3 mo); metabolome analysis and bioinformatics of blood samples collected in the experiments.