20 December 2018 – ‘Nutribiosis’, a term coined by DuPont Animal Nutrition, is the state describing the interaction between nutrition, microbiome and gut and immune function. The concept may not be new, but looking at nutrition, the microbiome, as well as gut and immune functions together in a holistic way to understand how they interact and impact each other, is of growing importance as the animal nutrition sector continues to face many challenges, including feed cost volatility, disease control and growth performance and consistency inconsistencies.
Dr. Leon Marchal – Innovation Director at DuPont Industrial Biosciences – provided further insight to Feedinfo News Service on how the nutribiosis approach will play a bigger role for DuPont Animal Nutrition and its customers moving forward.
[Feedinfo News Service] Dr. Marchal, the industry is aware of the synergies between animal nutrition, the animal’s microbiome, as well as gut and immune function – but nevertheless the industry looks at them in an isolated way. Given what we know on synergies, why isn’t the industry focusing more on a holistic approach?
[Leon Marchal] Generally, awareness of the importance of this interaction is growing but there has not been a corresponding increase in available data. Feed Conversion Ratios (FCR) and Average Daily Gain (ADG) are almost always accessible, but more advanced measurements are scarce or non-existent. This is because most scientific research has focused on either the nutrition or health side, and this has resulted in little published information around the synergies. Fortunately, things look set to change. Analysis techniques to characterize the microbiome, for example, have become much more affordable in recent years. Closer to home at DuPont, we are now actively bringing together the scientific expertise from across our organization (nutrition, immunology, microbiology, data scientist etc.) in order to better understand these complex biological interactions – and we aim to take a leading role in the practical application of this knowledge.
[Feedinfo News Service] What differentiates nutribiosis from other gut health concepts in the market?
[Leon Marchal] Most gut health concepts take a narrow view; only considering certain criteria such as microbiota, villi height or tight junctions. Nutribiosis, however, takes a more holistic view of all of the components found in the intestinal tract – and this includes the nutritional aspect. And though there have been discussions in this field for years – our DuPont colleague Dr Andrew Morgan, for example, wrote a paper back in 1992 that touched on this topic – this is the first comprehensive approach to developing a better scientific understanding. Looking at all these interactions in synergy and how they impact on each other is what makes nutribiosis unique.
[Feedinfo News Service] Does nutribiosis also take into account the animal’s genome?
[Leon Marchal] Nutribiosis focuses on describing the current state of the animal based on the interaction between nutrition, microbiome, gut and immune function. Of course, genetics play a major role for the starting point but can be seen as constant for a given production round.
[Feedinfo News Service] Can you give us an overview of the analysis carried out by your laboratories and how you have been able to constitute a big database of poultry gut samples?
[Leon Marchal] Every poultry nutritionist knows that she/he will get variance between different flocks, even if the birds are on exactly the same feed and housing conditions. We know that microbiome, gut health and immune status play a role in this but, until now, this has been very hard to quantify in practice. So, our in-field analysis program is a major step forward in this respect. We have performed extensive field analysis of over 80,000 guts, from over 500 farms, over multiple rounds and also in the chain (parent stock, hatcheries) – the extent of which has only been possible thanks to customer partnerships. This activity has already led to some valuable insights on the effect of certain strategies and we will continue to expand on this data to identify areas for improvement.
[Feedinfo News Service] Are you able to apply the nutribiosis concept equally across poultry and swine?
[Leon Marchal] Yes, in principle, nutribiosis can be applied to all animals. In our development trials, we started to measure all the relevant data but at the moment, most data relates to poultry. Looking ahead, we will be expanding our data footprint in swine.
[Feedinfo News Service] You promote nutribiosis as a highly effective means to reduce or remove antibiotics from production systems. Can you explain how this is possible and illustrate by proving how more profitable decisions were made after the nutribiosis concept was applied?
[Leon Marchal] When you want to reduce or remove antibiotics in broilers, for example, the key thing is to develop a more robust bird as this helps to keep them in a favorable nutribiotic state. But to do so effectively, one has to look further than just the FCR. This is because even two flocks – with exactly the same growth performance at a certain time – could be quite different in terms of their susceptibility to the same disease challenge. So, in order to judge if an intervention (like the use of a probiotic/DFM or enzyme) will have a positive effect on the birds’ robustness, measurements of microbiome, gut integrity and immune function are necessary – as well as nutrition data.
Take Necrotic Enteritis (NE) for example. NE is a condition which arises from a combination of an intestinal challenge – such as coccidiosis – and an overload of nutrients in the latter part of the intestinal tract. The opportunistic pathogen, C. perfringens, thrives on the high levels of undigested protein that are present; causing intestinal damage and negatively impacting gut function. To mitigate the risk of an outbreak, producers can look for a combination of feed additives, such as enzymes and DFMs/probiotics, that work together to create a more favorable nutribiotic state. Combined, they improve nutrient digestibility, control which substrates are available for bacteria and help maintain the balance of the microbiome which helps prevent challenges that would result in lost performance.
[Feedinfo News Service] Has nutribiosis helped DuPont Animal Nutrition further understand the modes of action and performance benefits of its feed enzyme and probiotic products?
[Leon Marchal] Yes, nutribiosis has indeed helped us better understand the modes of action and performance benefits of our current products. To give you a swine example. With Syncra® SWI, the combination of a protease and a three different probiotic strain improves the liveability, average daily gain and feed conversion ratio in grower/finisher pigs. This combination works to improve gut barrier strength through tighter junctions, enhances protein digestibility, amino acid utilization and fiber bound nutrient release, as well as positively impacting the microbiome function in a number of important ways.
We are also taking a more holistic approach to our research and development of new solutions, looking beyond the nutritional factor. Through the lens of nutribiosis, we are investing in science and innovation to help producers improve performance, increase liveability and support welfare in the face of increasing pressure to reduce or remove antibiotics from production systems. However, to properly measure nutribiosis, producers need additional on-site scientific measurements which take a multi-disciplinary approach to demonstrating added value. At DuPont, we are committed to developing the tools that will allow producers to achieve this.
[Feedinfo News Service] What was the main feedback you picked up with regard to nutribiosis at EuroTier in Germany and at the European Poultry Conference held in Croatia?
[Leon Marchal] Customers really liked the nutribiosis approach. The three pillars of nutribiosis (nutrition, microbiome and gut & immune function) were recognized to be the link between nutrition and health status. Customers also wanted to know more about the microbiome of the animal and how it varies under different conditions. Overall, we felt there was real demand for us to speed up new product development using this holistic nutribiosis approach.