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Methylome and transcriptome analysis of chickens subjected to illumination stress in the livestock production environment

Grant number: 18/13600-0
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): January 16, 2019
Effective date (End): January 15, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Animal Genetics
Principal Investigator:Luiz Lehmann Coutinho
Grantee:Fábio Pértille
Supervisor abroad: Carlos Guerrero Bosagna
Home Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : Linköping University (LiU), Sweden  
Associated to the scholarship:16/20440-3 - Epigenetic analysis of methylation profile of chickens submitted to different stress conditions in the livestock production environment, BP.PD


Stress in production animals generated by common production practices is a frequent issue of concern. Besides the ethical issue of inducing stress in animals, some practices in animal industry may have consequences from a human health perspective. The environment where production animals are raised is fundamental to determine not only their later health and wellbeing, but also the quality of the food originating from them. Stress conditions to which animals are subjected include extreme illumination patterns, social isolation, rough handling and under- or overfeeding. In animals undergoing distress, hormonal responses are produced. These include variations in testosterone, epinephrine, prolactin and cortisol. It is expected that if animals are constantly subjected to stress and systemic hormonal changes, this exposure will affect the epigenome of a variety of cell types including mitochondria and, consequently, the gene expression. Moreover, mitochondrial epigenetic modifications (MEMs) represent an alternative point of control mediating the changes in mitochondrial form and function that are observed in response to environmental stressors and disease. However, few studies have quantified MEMs resulting from environmental stress and none has correlated them to mitochondrial or organismal phenotypes. In order to determine whether the effects of long-term (stressful) rearing conditions of chickens can produce long-term epigenomic effects in both autosomal and mitochondrial epigenomes, we will investigate transcriptional and epigenetic effects of exposure to unpredictable light patterns. This painless stress is commonly used to alter growth rate and to allow birds to achieve maximal mass accretion. The pineal gland is a region of vertebrate brains that regulates the circadian rhythm of individuals through the secretion of melatonin according to the patterns of light they experience. These mechanisms require gene activation dependent upon light exposures, which strongly suggests involvement of epigenetic mechanisms regulating gene transcription. The present study will focus on whether long-term gene expression and epigenetic changes can be produced in the pineal gland of chickens after early life exposure to stressful illuminations patterns. The results of this research will have an impact not only from the animal welfare viewpoint. They will serve as a basis for the use of epigenetic tools to determine the stress exposure during animal's life and may reveal new epigenetic mechanisms related to human health.

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
PERTILLE, FABIO; DA SILVA, VINICIUS H.; JOHANSSON, ANNA M.; LINDSTROM, TOM; WRIGHT, DOMINIC; COUTINHO, LUIZ L.; JENSEN, PER; GUERRERO-BOSAGNA, CARLOS. Mutation dynamics of CpG dinucleotides during a recent event of vertebrate diversification. Epigenetics, v. 14, n. 7 MAY 2019. Web of Science Citations: 2.

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