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Epigenetic consequences of the experiences during the pre-mating period in boars on indicators of cognition and emotionality in piglets


The current proposal will bridge two existing proposals, one is sponsored by FAPESP and the second is sponsored by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development. One proposal is a regular FAPESP project, where Zanella is the PI and Guerrero-Bosagna a co-investigator. The second proposal is sponsored FORMAS, Swedish Research Council, with Guerrero-Bosagna as PI and Zanella as Co-Investigator. The Ph.D. candidate Thiago Bernardino de Almeida, who is sponsored by FAPESP and the M.Sc. candidate, Leandro Sabei, who is sponsored by CAPES, collected biological samples and behavioural data under the project 2018/01082-4, which aims at understanding the impact of stress on boars on the developmental outcomes of the offspring. Thiago Bernadino de Almeida will complete his Ph.D. in October/2020 and Leandro Sabei will complete his M.Sc. degree in June/2020. The collaborative work with Linkoping will allow 1) the identification of epigenetic marks in peripheral cell types of 13 sows and 18 boars (buccal swabs) that relate to exposures relevant for their welfare (e.g. stress), during gametogenesis, for boars, and pregnancy for sows and 2) Identification of epigenetic changes in brain tissue and testis of piglets (number) which were offspring of the 18 boars and 13 sows. Eighteen boars were housed in three contrasting environments. Pooled semen from the boars were used to inseminate 13 gilts, with differing social status. Paternity tests allowed the investigation of the relationship between the paternal treatment and the social status of the mothers on the behaviour, physiology and epigenetic markers of their offspring (n=142). Behavioural data is available from the piglets. In addition, measures of emotionality, such as the response of the piglets to open field test, novel object test and measures of nociceptive threshold. Post-mortem samples, such as brain and testicles, are available from all male pigs (nX). This experiment will provide biological material to correlate behavioural data with DNA methylation patterns and cortisol levels. GBS-MeDIP, a combination of methods developed in the lab of Dr. Guerrero-Bosagna and already tested in pig samples, will be applied to detect epigenetic marks of stress in these biological samples. A large thematic project will be prepared by the collaborating team, to address the impact of diseases, stress and welfare on developmental outcomes, using pigs as models. (AU)

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