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Department of Animal Sciences
The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agricultural, Food & Environment

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

P.O. Box 12, Rehovot 76100, Israel
Phone: +972-(0)8-9489119;
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Cheled-Shoval, S. ; Behrens, M. ; Korb, A. ; Di Pizio, A. ; Meyerhof, W. ; Uni, Z. ; Niv, M. Y. From Cell to Beak: In-Vitro and In-Vivo Characterization of Chicken Bitter Taste Thresholds. Molecules 2017, 22. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Bitter taste elicits an aversive reaction, and is believed to protect against consuming poisons. Bitter molecules are detected by the Tas2r family of G-protein-coupled receptors, with a species-dependent number of subtypes. Chickens demonstrate bitter taste sensitivity despite having only three bitter taste receptors—ggTas2r1, ggTas2r2 and ggTas2r7. This minimalistic bitter taste system in chickens was used to determine relationships between in-vitro (measured in heterologous systems) and in-vivo (behavioral) detection thresholds. ggTas2r-selective ligands, nicotine (ggTas2r1), caffeine (ggTas2r2), erythromycin and (+)-catechin (ggTas2r7), and the Tas2r-promiscuous ligand quinine (all three ggTas2rs) were studied. Ligands of the same receptor had different in-vivo:in-vitro ratios, and the ggTas2r-promiscuous ligand did not exhibit lower in-vivo:in-vitro ratios than ggTas2r-selective ligands. In-vivo thresholds were similar or up to two orders of magnitude higher than the in-vitro ones.
Yair, R. ; Cahaner, A. ; Uni, Z. ; Shahar, R. Maternal and genetic effects on broiler bone properties during incubation period. Poultry Science 2017, 96, 2301 - 2311. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In order to examine the differences in bone properties between fast-growing and slow-growing broiler embryos and to understand the effects of genotype and egg size on these differences, fast- and slow-growing hens and males were reciprocally crossed to create 4 egg groups: FST (laid by fast-growing hens, inseminated by fast-growing males), H-FST (fast-growing hens and slow-growing males), H-SLW (slow-growing hens and fast-growing males), and SLW (slow-growing hens and slow-growing males). Embryos (n = 8) from these 4 groups were sacrificed and weighed, and both tibiae were harvested on embryonic d (E) 17, 19, and 21. Left tibiae were tested for their whole-bone mechanical properties using a micromechanical device. Cortical bone structure and bone mineral density (BMD) were examined by micro-computed tomography of the left tibiae. Bone mineralization was evaluated by measuring BMD and ash content, while the rate and location of mineralization were evaluated by fluorochrome labeling. Osteoclastic activity and osteocyte density were evaluated by histological stains [TRAP (Tartrate resistant acid phosphatase) and H&E (Hematoxylin and Eosin), respectively]. Groups with larger eggs (FST and H-FST) had higher BW and tibia weight than groups with smaller eggs (SLW and H-SLW); however, they had a lower ratio of tibia weight to BW. Between groups with similar egg weight, stiffness, maximal load, and yield load of the bones were higher in the SLW than the H-SLW, while no differences were found between the FST and H-FST. Additionally, the tibiae of the SLW were stiffer and their osteocyte density higher than in the FST on E21 and their periosteal mineralization rate was higher between E19 and E21. No differences were found between the groups in cortical bone structure. This study demonstrates that faster growing hatchlings, especially those that hatch from relatively small eggs, have inferior bone mechanical properties in comparison to slower growing hatchlings, and suggests that fast-growing chicks hatching from small eggs are at a higher risk for developing bone pathologies. Accordingly, selection for increased egg size may lead to improved mechanical performance of the skeleton of fast-growing broilers.
Cheled-Shoval, S. L. ; Reicher, N. ; Niv, M. Y. ; Uni, Z. Detecting thresholds for bitter, umami, and sweet tastants in broiler chicken using a 2-choice test method. Poultry Science 2017, 96, 2206 - 2218. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The sense of taste has a key role in nutrient sensing and food intake in animals. A standardized and simple method for determination of tastant-detection thresholds is required for chemosensory research in poultry. We established a 24-h, 2-alternative, forced-choice solution-consumption method and applied it to measure detection thresholds for 3 G-protein-coupled receptor-mediated taste modalities—bitter, sweet, and umami—in chicken. Four parameters were used to determine a significant response: 1) tastant-solution consumption; 2) water (tasteless) consumption; 3) total consumption (tastant and water together); 4) ratio of tastant consumption to total consumption. Our results showed that assignment of the taste solutions and a water control to 2 bottles on random sides of the pen can be reliably used for broiler chicks, even though 47% of the chicks groups demonstrated a consistently preferred side. The detection thresholds for quinine (bitter), L-monosodium glutamate (MSG) (umami), and sucrose (sweet) were determined to be 0.3 mM, 300 mM, and 1 M, respectively. The threshold results for quinine were similar to those for humans and rodents, but the chicks were found to be less sensitive to sucrose and MSG. The described method is useful for studying detection thresholds for tastants that have the potential to affect feed and water consumption in chickens.
Ifrah, M. E. ; Perelman, B. ; Finger, A. ; Uni, Z. The role of the bursa of Fabricius in the immune response to vaccinal antigens and the development of immune tolerance in chicks (Gallus domesticus) vaccinated at a very young age. Poultry Scienceps 2016, 96, 51 - 57. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Vaccination is recognized to be the most cost-effective means of preventing, controlling, and even eradicating infectious diseases. Conventional poultry are vaccinated through various routes including eye/nose drops, drinking water, vent brush, or injection. Efficient vaccination is an essential part of any good poultry management.The bursa of Fabricius is intimately connected to the cloaca and the intestinal system. It is well-known as a primary lymphoid organ in the chicken and a major channel through which environmental antigens stimulate the immune system. In this study we tested whether direct instillation of various viral vaccines and antigens into the cloaca (per bursam), could stimulate higher antibody titers and generate improved protection. Despite the very rapid absorption of the vaccines or antigens from the cloaca to the lumen of the Bursa of Fabricius, per bursam inoculation failed to generate a satisfactory immune response. In contrast conventional administration of live or inactivated commercial vaccines led to an acceptable level of seroconversion and protection against challenge.An interesting finding in this study was the fact that administration of a single priming dose of antigenic material at age 1 or 5 days, did not improve the response to a second administration at 14 days of age as expected. Instead, in most cases there was a reduced serum antibody response suggesting the induction of tolerance. This was true for all routes of administration (intramuscular, per ocular and per bursam) and for all formulations of vaccine.The current study reveals: 1) no advantage for direct application of live or inactivated vaccines or antigens into the bursa of Fabricius compared to common routes of vaccination, 2) that apparent desensitization or tolerance effects have important implications for poultry management, since in many countries, vaccination of day old chicks is compulsory or a well-accepted part of flock vaccination.According to our results, early vaccination can in fact reduce or inhibit a secondary immune response to subsequent vaccination and increase susceptibility to disease agents.