|Coordinatore||INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE
address: Rue De L'Universite 147
|Nazionalità Coordinatore||France [FR]|
|Totale costo||510˙724 €|
|EC contributo||460˙000 €|
Specific Programme "Capacities": Research infrastructures
|Anno di inizio||2008|
|Periodo (anno-mese-giorno)||2008-11-01 - 2010-04-30|
INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE
address: Rue De L'Universite 147
|FR (PARIS CEDEX 07)||coordinator||154˙782.50|
MAA JA ELINTARVIKETALOUDEN TUTKIMUSKESKUS
address: Building O - Humppilantie 14
address: GESCHWISTER SCHOLL PLATZ 1
INSTYTUT ZOOTECHNIKI PANSTWOWY INSTYTUT BADAWCZY
address: UL. SAREGO 2
TEAGASC - AGRICULTURE AND FOOD DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
address: Oak Park
INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE INVESTIGACION Y TECNOLOGIA AGRARIA Y ALIMENTARIA
address: Carretera de la Coruna Km7.5
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'Ruminants and other large domestic herbivores are often used in agricultural research both as target species for increasing knowledge on production systems and their impact on the environment. They are also used as models for physiological studies, and for biomedical research. ERIN is a support action aiming at identifying potential European networks of animal facilities for research on large animals that will support future research needs in this area. Its objectives are i) to identify future needs for experimental research on large animals, ii) to locate and characterise European experimental facilities and identify those that are candidates for forming an integrated infrastructure, and iii) to combine future needs and potential research facilities in order to produce potential scenarios of organisation. ERIN will use a combination of bibliometrical studies and collaborative networks for the identification of potential candidates (research groups and experimental facilities) for a quantitative survey of the main research institutes and universities in Europe, and complete this with qualitative analyses based on in-depth interviews of key research managers and visits to selected experimental facilities. Crossing the results of future needs expressed by research groups and of experimental potential will help to establish scenarios of the future organisation of research facilities in Europe. Results and scenarios will be presented at a final conference where the major research agencies and funding bodies will be invited to express their positions and react on these scenarios. Final recommendations will be made regarding possible integrated organisations of research facilities dedicated to research on large domestic animals with a view to stimulating synergies, facilitating researcher mobility and achieving a critical mass in Europe able to compete with future large foreign research consortia.'
Cattle and related mammals offer us much in terms of food, science and medicine. A new facility to study these animals using non-invasive methods may be in the making.
Mammals that digest plant-based foods by chewing it more than once (regurgitating and re-chewing) are called ruminants. These animals include cattle, sheep, goats, camels, moose, antelopes and more. As science develops, keeping in mind that ruminants and their products play an important part in the food chain, it is vital to advance our understanding of these mammals.
Europe produces over 3 000 scientific articles on ruminants per year and is the leading authority on the subject with over 400 European institutes or universities involved. Collaboration on the subject within Europe and worldwide is extensive (although that with eastern Europe lags behind).
With this in mind, the EU-funded study ERIN has been looking to develop an integrated European infrastructure network of animal facilities in ruminant physiology. It conducted in-depth research and interviews with stakeholders in the industry, building scenarios for establishing research facilities in Europe. ERIN also organised a stakeholder conference to discuss the findings.
The project found that most available studies focus on cattle as the predominant ruminant species, followed by sheep and goats. They cover mostly veterinary sciences, agriculture, dairy and animal science, as well as food science and food technology. However, there are many other topics that are not being addressed in light of the rapidly changing world around us.
In particular, ERIN highlighted how research on ruminants needs to address new challenges globally: food security, climate change and the sustainability of production systems. This includes protection of the environment and animal welfare, as well as social equity. Innovative solutions require integrated applications of existing knowledge, science and technology, as well as interdisciplinary networks and increased participation of stakeholders.
In the past, studies mostly looked at traits such as growth rate and a handful of genes. Today, more complex traits like fertility or behaviour are being addressed, and are linked to numerous genes that should be studied more closely. ERIN has highlighted the need for more detailed pools of information to understand the links between genes, environment, and traits. This requires in-depth investigation related to relatively new science fields (associated with genetics) such as metabolomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics.
On another front, innovative solutions for farming must take into account the various environmental contexts of agriculture in Europe, helping to adapt to each area. In addition, ruminants are increasingly being used as models for studying human disorders such as reproductive or development disorders. Emerging scientific approaches and tools including tools for biomedical research are set to advance agricultural research, especially in developing non-invasive investigation techniques (e.g. imagery). While this has already begun, it is limited in scale and requires more funding.
Close coordination between researchers and novel solutions will be crucial to help farming cope with global challenges. Experimental facilities must work together to develop less invasive, more precise investigation methods. A new, shared facility will certainly help research on ruminants and benefit the sector. This it is believed will increase the quality and the efficiency of European research.