Understanding the interplay between animals and microorganisms associated with them has been recognised as an essential step for improving animal health, welfare and production. To understand the biomolecular interactions that impact production processes, researchers are implementing novel analytical strategies based on studying host genomes, their microbial metagenomes as well as the different ‘omic layers interconnecting them. However, such information, derived from conventional DNA/RNA sequencing and mass spectrometry, does not provide any information about how the different biological elements are spatially distributed in the ecosystem. In consequence, many microbe-microbe and animal-microbe interactions remain hidden due to the lack of resolution of the employed techniques. Acknowledging the three-dimensional (3D) conformation of biomolecules, cells and tissues is now considered a key element for advancing the understanding of biomolecular interactions. In 3D’omics we will develop, optimise and, for the first time, implement this technology in animal production to generate the so-called 3D’omic landscapes, the most accurate reconstructions of intestinal host-microbiota ecosystems ever achieved. Using two terrestrial production systems, namely poultry and swine, we will analyse the effect of a myriad of factors, including animal development, diet, exposure to pathogens and management practices, in the shaping of 3D’omic landscapes. Through coupling our new technology with cutting edge analyses of animal health and performance, we will advance phenotypic variability and genetic evaluations of production animals to a new frontier. We foresee our solution will open new research avenues to improve animal breeding practices, develop microbiota- and host-tailored feeds and animal health treatments, as well as to design new management practices that will enable increasing production efficiency and animal welfare while decreasing the environmental impact.
H20-FOOD-Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research