An Emerging Frontier


Make plans now to attend the May 23 webinar, Microbiota of Laboratory Animals: An Emerging Frontier. The webinar will be held from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM CT.

The gut microbiota (GM) is the community of commensal microorganisms that occupy the intestinal tracts of animal species. In recent years, interest in GM has exploded due to advancement and availability of technologies to define and analyze these complex populations (complex gnotobiology). Of importance to the biomedical research community is the growing wealth of data showing that differences in complex GM are associated with changes in model phenotypes which may translate to differences in disease susceptibility in human patients. These include models of intestinal disease, but also a surprisingly diverse range of physiological processes such as neurodevelopment and behavior. While initial studies are often correlative, a causal role for GM in phenotype differences can be assessed sing a variety of procedures. These include classic gnotobiology strategies such as reconstituting germfree mice with defined flora or even human microbiota. It is also possible to exploit existing GM differences in contemporary rodent colonies through procedures such as complex microbiota targeted rederivation (CMTR). With CMTR, mice of the desired genotype are rederived using embryo transfer into surrogate dams with one or more defined GM profiles. The pups are then seeded with the GM of their respective surrogate dams, resulting in genetically identical animals with different, defined, complex GM. using CMTR, we have shown that diverse, naturally occurring GM profiles significantly influence lesion score severity in a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease and tumor burden in rat and mouse models of colorectal cancer. Importantly, complex GM of rodents can also be standardized and maintained, making complex GM studies readily executable in most contemporary rodent settings. To facilitate such studies, we have created colonies of mice with four standardized complex GM. The latter have been maintained for over twenty generations with minimal drift in GM composition, richness and diversity. In addition to serving as sources of surrogates for CMTR, these standardized colonies may also be used as fecal donors of complex GM through cross-fostering and fecal transplantation. As a result, these colonies may prove to be invaluable components of our toolbox for addressing mechanisms by which GM influence model phenotypes with the ultimate goal of refining models towards maximal reproducibility and optimal translatability.

The webinar presenter is Craig Franklin, CVM, PhD, DACLAM. Dr. Franklin attended the University of Missouri (MU), where he received his DVM and PhD. He is currently a Professor of Veterinary Pathobiology at MU and directs the Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Center, a member of a 4-institution, NIH-funded repository of genetically engineered mutant mice; the Comparative Medicine Program, a post-DVM laboratory animal medicine residency and advanced degree program; and the Veterinary Research Scholars Program, a summer research program for veterinary students. He is also an associate director of the MU Metagenomics Laboratory and is a co-investigator for the Rat Resource and Research Center. He has over 30 years of experience in rodent disease models and diagnostics with an emphasis on infectious and intestinal diseases. His current research home, the Comparative Metagenomics Laboratory, studies environmental variables that may modulate rodent microbiota, the impact of differing microbiota on rodent model phenotypes (e.g. Inflammatory and neoplastic diseases of the intestine) and methods to practically manipulate and control complex microbiota to optimize model reproducibility and translatability. He also performs collaborative studies involving numerous rodent and domestic species models of disease. He has authored or co-authored over 125 manuscripts and book chapters, given 70 invited presentations, and contributed to over 200 posters or seminar presentations at regional, national and international scientific conferences.

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