Priming for welfare: gut microbiota is associated with equitation conditions and behavior in horse athletes.

Núria Mach, Alice Ruet, Allison Clark, David Bars-Cortina, Yuliaxis Ramayo-Caldas, Elisa Crisci, Samuel Pennarun, Sophie Dhorne-Pollet, Aline Foury, Marie-Pierre Moisan, Léa Lansade
Sci Rep. 2020-05-20; 10(1):
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-65444-9

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Mach N(1), Ruet A(2), Clark A(3), Bars-Cortina D(4), Ramayo-Caldas Y(5)(6), Crisci E(5)(7), Pennarun S(8), Dhorne-Pollet S(5), Foury A(9), Moisan MP(9), Lansade L(2).

Author information:
(1)Animal Genetic and Integrative Biology, INRAE, University of Paris-Saclay, AgroParisTech, 78350, Jouy-en-Josas, France. .
(2)PRC, INRAE, CNRS, IFCE, University of Tours, 37380, Nouzilly, France.
(3)Health Science Department, Open University of Catalonia, 08018, Barcelona, Spain.
(4)Medicine Department, University of Lleida, 25001, Lleida, Spain.
(5)Animal Genetic and Integrative Biology, INRAE, University of Paris-Saclay, AgroParisTech, 78350, Jouy-en-Josas, France.
(6)Animal Breeding and Genetics Program, Institute for Research and Technology in Food and Agriculture (IRTA), Torre Marimon, 08140, Caldes de Montbui, Spain.
(7)Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, 27607, USA.
(8)US UMR 1426, INRAE, Genomic platform, 31326, Castanet-Tolosan, France.
(9)University of Bordeaux, INRAE, NutriNeuro UMR 1286, 33076, Bordeaux, France.

We simultaneously measured the fecal microbiota and multiple environmental and
host-related variables in a cohort of 185 healthy horses reared in similar
conditions during a period of eight months. The pattern of rare bacteria varied
from host to host and was largely different between two time points. Among a
suite of variables examined, equitation factors were highly associated with the
gut microbiota variability, evoking a relationship between gut microbiota and
high levels of physical and mental stressors. Behavioral indicators that pointed
toward a compromised welfare state (e.g. stereotypies, hypervigilance and
aggressiveness) were also associated with the gut microbiota, reinforcing the
notion for the existence of the microbiota-gut-brain axis. These observations
were consistent with the microbiability of behaviour traits (> 15%), illustrating
the importance of gut microbial composition to animal behaviour. As more elite
athletes suffer from stress, targeting the microbiota offers a new opportunity to
investigate the bidirectional interactions within the brain gut microbiota axis.


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