From mice to livestock: Exploring the gut-brain axis in animal production

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Aberystwyth University - Penglais Campus


SY23 3FL

United Kingdom

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Event description


Free registration includes meals and accomodation

Over the past decade, a growing body of literature has demonstrated that the gut-brain axis (the bidirectional communication between the microbiome within the digestive tract and the brain) plays a key role in the normal neurodevelopment and behaviour of rodent models and in human subjects. Changes in the microbiota community structure have been associated with negative health outcomes, such as nutrition/metabolic related disorders and immune-mediated diseases. Additionally, the microbiota and its metabolites are likely to be involved in modulating behaviours and brain processes, including immune and stress responsiveness, pain modulation and intake behaviour. This raises the potential of targeting this system in other species, such as in livestock animals, in order to develop novel ways to modulate animal stress-susceptibility and feeding behaviour, and hence improving animal health, welfare and productivity.


The aim of this event is to strengthen the relationship between researchers and experts on the fields of nutrition, microbiology, behaviour and neuroscience to:

- Share state-of-the art research on the microbiome-gut-brain axis.

- Develop a common agenda of priority research and funding bids to unravel the plural mechanisms by which microbiome modulates brain function.

- Generate dialogue and facilitate greater research collaboration across disciplines, sectors, research institutes and countries.

General information

This event will have a noon-to-noon format over 2 days in Aberystwyth University, and will include national and international speakers covering state-of-the-art research from different disciplines related to to the gut-microbiome-brain axis (see draft program below).

A round-table discussion will also be organized the last day with potential funders with the ultimate goal of developing a common agenda of research priorities and funding bids to understand the opportunities and challenges of manipulating the gut-microbiome-brain axis in livestock animals.

A one-night accomodation will be covered for attendants if required. Lunches, refreshments and tea/coffee are provided with registration. A complimentary social dinner on Monday night is included with registration. Free parking is available at the venue in the University car park. Please visit the website of Aberystwyth University for more information about your transport options.

IBERS building

Draft programme

April 24: Neuroscience of behaviour, cognition and mood. Chaired by Profesor Jamie Newbold.

1:00 pm – 1:45 pm Lunch and Registration. IBERS building, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth.

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm Welcome message from Profesor Jamie Newbold.

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm The mechanisms associated to preference and aversion learning, and the effects of stress on food preference. Profesor Dominic Dwyer (Cardiff University).

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm Neurophysiological consequences of highly palatable feeds and how it affects neural mechanism of motivation in domesticated ungulates. Dr Sebastian McBride (Aberystwyth University).

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm The role of the autonomic nervous system on personality and cognition of free-ranging mammal, and mapping psychological, physiological, and behavioural profiles in goats. Dr Alan McElligott (Queen Mary University of London).

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm Coffee break.

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm The neurobiological factors mediating differences in behaviour: the impact of early life events on stress responsiveness in animals. Profesor Cathy Dwyer (Scotland’s Rural College).

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm Precision farming: measuring and managing the variability in biological resources at the individual animal level, and how natural behaviours of domestic cattle can help. Profesor Mark Rutter (The National Centre for Precision/Harper Adams University).

7:00 pm Dinner in Aberystwyth (Belle Vue Royal Hotel).

April 25: Effects of diet and gut microbiome on brain function. Chaired by Profesor Andy Smith (Bangor University).

9:00 am – 9:30 am The potential role of pro- and prebiotics in future clinical and metaphylactic treatments. Profesor Jamie Newbold (Aberystwyth University).

9:30 am – 10:00 am The effects of probiotic treatments on memory function. Profesor Mark Good (Cardiff University).

10:00 am – 10:30 am "Gut bacteria and mind control", and the role of the mucosal immune system on lipid metabolism and the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome. Profesor Simon Carding (Institute of Food Research/University of East Anglia).

10:30 am – 11:00 am Coffee break.

11:00 am – 11:30 am Gut microbiota regulates stress, anxiety, and cognition: mechanisms and therapeutic potential. Profesor John Cryan (University College Cork).

11:30 am – 12:00 pm Microbial Endocrinology, and the relationship between stress and the progress human and animal infectious diseases. Dr Primrose Freestone (University of Leicester).

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Round table (Participants to be confirmed).

1:00 pm Lunch. IBERS building, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth.

Belle vue Hotel


Who can register to this event?

Professionals and post-graduate students working in the fields of human or animal behaviour, cognition, affective state, microbiology, or nutrition.

What are my transport options for getting to the event?

Travel expenses are not included for the attendants to the symposium (only for the speakers). Please visit the website of Aberystwyth University for more information about your transport options.

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

If you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us:

Dr Diego Moya Fernandez, Interdisciplinary Research Fellow. Tel: +44 (0) 1970 621693; Email:

Professor Jamie Newbold, Professor of Animal Science.Tel: +44 (0) 01970 622242; E-mail:

Dr Sebastian McBride, Lecturer in Biological Science. Tel: +44 (0)1970 621633; E-mail:


Financial support provided by the Welsh Government and Higher Education Funding Council for Wales through the Sêr Cymru National Research Network for Low Carbon, Energy and Environment.

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Aberystwyth University - Penglais Campus


SY23 3FL

United Kingdom

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