Teaching and research activities of the department of animal science concern the processes of molecular and cellular pathways in cells and organs and their role in the functions, reproduction, development and the behavior of living farm animals (fish, poultry, bovine)
The agenda covers a broad range of specialized disciplines including cell biology, molecular biology, genomics, endocrinology, immunology, microbiology, nutrition and also behavior.
Research is focused on genetics and evolution of complex traits. For that, state-of-the-art genetic, genomic and computational tools are applied to address genetic questions using the yeast as a basic model and fish as non-model organisms. The research interests in yeast include studying the genetic basis of complex traits and the evolution of gene regulation networks. In fish, Dr. David is studying the genetics of infectious disease resistance and of sex determination. The group studies also the genetics of natural freshwater fish populations to address ecological and conservation risks. The insights from his basic research are used to breed for genetically improved fish strains and to solve significant practical problems impeding fish aquaculture.
Reproduction and Endocrinology
Research is in the area of reproduction and endocrinology in fish. This includes various levels as the mechanisms underlying hypothalamic regulation in fish; puberty in fish; Novel neuropeptides and their effect on metabolism and reproduction; The relationship between growth and reproduction in fish; Production of recombinant gonadotropins using the expression system of Pichia pastoris; Sex inversion in fish; Study the mechanisms underlying FSH and LH release using transgenic tilapia and zebrafish.
Aquaculture and water quality
Research is in the area of aquaculture: Aquatic microbiology, Biological transformation of N, P, C and S in aquatic systems and Water quality control in fish culture systems
Nutrition and the digestive tract
Research is focused on the functional development of the chicken digestive system and the influence of specific nutrients on the integrity and functional capability of the gut epithelium. The goal of this research is to improved efficiency of poultry nutrition. Research projects molecular, morphological and functional changes during the development of the intestine in chicken; Methods of accelerating the gut development in poultry – in ovo feeding/ feeding before hatch; Modulating intestinal microflora by feed additives; Yolk sac tissue development and functionality during incubation period; Bitter Taste Perception in the chicken digestive tract.
Research is in the field of neuro-epigenetics. Our research examines how different environmental stimuli such as diet, diet regimen and nutritional supplements shapes the brain epigenome and regulates 3D- chromatin organization. We are interested to understand how this process leads to long-lasting changes in brain circuits of appetite and energy balance control, in both healthy and diseased states. A secondary goal is to understand whether epigenetic programming in the early stages of development can affect the behavioral-physiological phenotype of the adult organism and how these changes can pass onto future generations.
The complex community of microbes residing in our gut, also known as the gut microbiota, is currently seen as an organ by its own right. The gut microbiota provides multiple functions for its host, such as protection from gut pathogens and the conversion of indigestible plant material to compounds the host can absorb and utilize. Currently, the lab is dedicated to the study of the commensal and pathogenic bacterial components of the chicken gut microbiota, and their interactions with each other and the host. A secondary goal is to utilize our knowledge to redesign the gut microbiota to increase animal wellbeing and industrial efficiency.
Area of research focuses on studying the mechanism by which light affect reproduction and performance in poultry (hens and roosters). The research topics is focusing on manipulating growth of meat type birds by monochromatic photo-stimulation; Embryonic photo-stimulation; reproductive failure associated with heat stress in turkey hens and the relationship between the eye and the brain in controlling reproductive activities of birds.
Nutrition and feedstuff
Research is focused on nutrition and feedstuffs for small ruminants including the development of industrial by-products as feedstuffs for ruminants; Halophytes as roughage source in ruminants’ ration; Amino acids metabolism at the mammary gland, protein synthesis and secretion; Absorption and partition of nutrients for milk production; Flavors and their role in ruminant nutrition and feed intake
Research is focused on milk fat globule. Research projects are concentrating on dietary means to control milk lipid composition with the goal to increase content of bioactive molecules in the milk; Revealing the metabolic-biochemical pathways regulating milk fat content and composition focusing on milk fat globule size; Study how local breeds of dairy animals utilize local vegetation.
Research activities is in the area of dairy cow’s pregnancy focusing on the corpus luteum endocrine gland. Mechanisms, in mammalians, controlling the demise of the corpus luteum; Angiogenesis during corpus luteum development; transcriptional regulation and molecular forms of of ovarian endothelin1 expression
Area of research focuses on studying the mechanism by which various stresses affect reproductive performance in dairy cows and in bull’s sperm. Stressors includes thermal stress, oxidative stress, environmental toxicants, pathogenic stress, and endocrine disruptors. Research topics are examination of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying disruptions in gametes (oocytes and sperm); Evaluation of early embryonic development; Use of complementary experimental models (in-vivo, in-vitro and ex-vivo); establishment of new approaches and novel strategies that could potentially have practical applications in the dairy.
Research is in the area of epigenetic regulation of Stem Cells. The work is dealing with fundamental questions of genomic regulation and developmental biology, and applying the recent progress of the field to domesticated animals. Research topics are retroviral silencing and histone dynamics in embryonic stem cells, DNA methylation in the developing human gut and immunomodulatory effect of mesenchymal stem cells in the mammary gland and uterine of the cow.
Behavior and Animal Welfare
The lab for happiness and well-being; studying the positive psychology in animals (and some in humans). Development of tools to track the movement and behavior of animals, using machine learning and AI to analyze the data and construct mathematical models in order to understand things such as personality, social behavior, learning, and so on.