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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Delaware State University
  • Murali Temburni
  • (302) 857-7379
Award Date:07/10/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 239,998
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 239,998
  • FY 2020=$239,998
Start Date:10/01/2020
End Date:09/30/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Excellence in Research: Collaborative Research: Interactive Effects of Dietary Fat and Gut Microbiota on Neurobehavioral Development in Gallus gallus
Federal Award ID Number:2000209
DUNS ID:114337629
Parent DUNS ID:114337629
Program:Physiolgcl Mechnsms&Biomechnsm
Program Officer:
  • Kathryn Dickson
  • (703) 292-7380

Awardee Location

Street:1200 N. Dupont Highway
Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Delaware State University
Street:1200 N DuPont Hwy, Delaware Stat
Cong. District:00

Abstract at Time of Award

Dietary fat is not only an important source of energy in human and animal diets, but it can also result in production of metabolites that may alter specific physiological functions in living organisms, including those associated with behavior. Dietary fat can impact both the composition of the gut microbiome and the generation of metabolites by the gut microbiome. Using chickens (Gallus gallus) as a vertebrate model, this study will investigate the interactive effects of dietary fat type and quantity on the composition of metabolites produced by gut microbiota, and will identify consequent changes in brain function (neurotransmitter signaling) and bird behavior. This study will utilize cutting-edge analytical techniques including genomics, metagenomics, gene expression, and electrophysiology to examine these interactive effects, with this work being conducted by both faculty and student researchers at three collaborating institutions. This study will provide mentored research experiences to more than a dozen biological and animal science students from the historically black institutions (HBCUs) involved in this project, as well as training three PhD students. Results from this study are expected to lead to a more complete understanding of how dietary fat types and the microbiota impact animal health, with potential applications to human health and the agricultural production of chickens. By involving undergraduate students from two HBCUs in the research, the project will help motivate impactful scientific researchers of the future. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that dietary fat type and concentration impact the physiological and behavioral conditions of animals with respect to nutrient levels, brain function, and reactivity to stress. However, the molecular mechanisms by which dietary fat and gut microbiota interact to influence the central serotonergic system are yet to be elucidated in birds. In this study, male and female chickens of varying ages will serve as model vertebrate animals to understand how changes in dietary fat type and concentration impact the activity of the central serotonergic system. Changes in gut microbiota in response to diet and age will be evaluated through 16S rRNA sequencing and shotgun metagenomics. Resulting shifts in metabolites produced from intestinal microbial fermentation processes will be determined by metabolomics, and relevant metabolites will be tracked from the gut through the blood, and to the brain. A systems-based analysis will enable the identification of metabolites that cross the blood-brain barrier to potentially modulate brain signaling and serotonin synthesis. Changes in bird behavior will be studied by using video recordings and software to perform neurobehavioral analysis. Expression levels of genes involved in production of behavior-modulating neurotransmitters will be quantified as correlates of dietary fat and gut microbiota interactions. The results may lead to improvements in the agricultural production of chickens. This multifaceted project will provide integrative STEM training experiences for undergraduate students and three PhD-level trainees. The project represents a new cross-disciplinary research area in the collaborating laboratories to investigate the gut-brain-microbiome axis, and will impact the research environment at two HBCUs. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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