The element phosphorus is essential for all organisms. On the one hand, mineral phosphorus or phosphate is a limited resource that could be depleted within about 100 years. On the other hand, excessive use of phosphorus in feed and fertiliser leads to environmental burden. Since 2017, all aspects of phosphorus utilisation from plant feed of laying hens and quails have been researched in the project "P-FOWL" under the leadership of the University of Hohenheim (DFG-FOR 2601). For the continuation of the research unit for the next three years, the German Research Foundation has granted a total of almost three million euros.
The aim of the joint project is to investigate genetically and non-genetically determined differences in phosphorus utilisation and to understand their significance for animal health. The animals should be able to make optimal use of the phosphorus contained in the feed so that farmers have to add less phosphorus or phosphate from mineral sources. This is intended to conserve resources and the environment.
Initial results of the joint project show that the ability of animals to absorb phosphorus from feed is genetically determined. This provides starting points for future breeding projects of animals with improved phosphorus utilisation. Furthermore, when phosphorus is released during the digestion process, substances are formed that may have hitherto hardly researched advantages for the health of the animals.
The FBN is involved as a project partner with two subprojects in which the animal-specific regulation of phosphorus and myo-inositol metabolism is being investigated, particularly in the sensitive period of the onset of laying. This includes the level of gene activity and epigenetic variation, as well as the secretion of important hormones. In addition, the FBN is responsible for the overall bioinformatic evaluation of the data from all subprojects of the research unit.
FBN projects in the DFG-funded research unit "P-FOWL":
- Characterization of mineral utilisation by functional genomics in two contrasting high-yielding laying hen strains
- Epigenetics, molecular pathways, and data integration to derive biological networks related to myo-inositol and P utilization in two contrasting high-yielding laying hen strains