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Evaluation of the impact of prebiotic supplementation on the gastrointestinal microbiome and metabolome of Thorougbred yearlings during nutritional stress

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  • Full or part time
    Dr LE Peachey
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

The MSc by Research project:
Effective dietary management is a key contributing factor to successful Thoroughbred (TB) rearing; a period when foals and yearlings are subject to a number of abrupt dietary changes. There has been a recent trend towards the inclusion of prebiotics, such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), in equine feed; and these products are marketed as having a ‘stabilising’ effect on equine gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota in the face of nutritional stress. However, much of the data upon which these claims are based are from other species, and furthermore, current evidence in horses is inconsistent and based on inherently insensitive bacterial culture techniques. Recent advances in next generation sequencing and metabolite detection technologies have enabled the entire GI microbiome and metabolome of the horse to be systematically profiled, and have resulted in a sharp increase in studies describing the impact of diet and disease on the equine GI microflora. This project will apply these technologies to describe the impact of FOS on the GI microbiota and microbial metabolism of TB youngstock, and additionally, test the hypothesis that FOS supplementation leads to improved GI health during nutritional stress. The successful applicant will undertake a randomised case-control study to profile the GI microbiota (using 16S rRNA sequencing) and metabolites (using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy) before and after a sudden diet change, in a cohort of TB yearlings divided into FOS supplemented versus control diet groups. Furthermore, clinical data will be gathered to evaluate the impact of FOS on GI health and overall performance. This study will provide much needed data regarding the efficacy and mode of action of FOS prebiotics in horses. Furthermore, the successful applicant will be trained in the use of state-of-the-art sequencing and metabolite profiling techniques, providing an invaluable insight into high impact veterinary research.

How to apply:
Please make an online application for this project at Please select ‘Faculty of Health Sciences’ and then ‘Veterinary Science_(MSc by research)’ on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form

Candidate requirements: A bachelor of veterinary or biological science

Contacts: Dr Laura Peachey, Lecturer in Parasitology, BVS, [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

Funding: Maintenance costs and fees must be self-funded by the student. All research costs will be covered by a Horserace Betting Levy Board funded small project grant.

How good is research at University of Bristol in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.03

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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