Biociência Animal

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Objetivos

The main goal of the Animal Biosciences Group (ABG) is to contribute for a sustainable livestock sector in the areas of Physiology and Functional Biology of Systems, Nutrition, Genetics, Behaviour, Health and Welfare. With a focus on problem-oriented approaches, the research in the ABG involves the study of all aspects of the biology of farm and companion animals, and wildlife and laboratory species that address fundamental questions related to livestock and companion animal biology. The research emphasizes the integrative nature of biological systems and the use of experimental techniques to characterize them at the molecular, cellular, tissue, organism and population levels, in order to:

(i) increase the efficiency and biosecurity of resources utilization and reduce the environmental impacts of production systems.

(ii) improve animal welfare and protect animal, human and environmental health.

Linhas de Investigação

1. Physiology of Production and Adaptation

1.1 Grazing Ecology: Behaviours and AdaptationGrazing animals under free range systems are a major source of income in Mediterranean ecosystems, characterized by extremely hot dry summers and frequent heat waves. This research line conducts studies on animal feeding and thermoregulation strategies to find biomarkers for monitoring physiological status and diseases, and improve diet/ecosystems management and animal welfare.

1.2 Reproduction, Biotechnologies of Reproduction and LactationAutochthonous livestock breeds are vital in Mediterranean agro-silvo-pastoral systems. This research line develops studies on the improvement of reproductive efficiency, evaluation of colostrum production, quality and consumption, and consequent effects on new-born physiology and survival. Extra-situ conservation by cryopreservation of semen and embryos, produced in vivo and in vitro, and adjustment of assisted reproduction techniques have also been addressed.

2. Animal and Human Health and Biosecurity

2.1 Trends in Animal Infectious and Parasitic DiseasesThis research line focus on the study of parasitic and infectious diseases wich are of major importance either by their zoonotic potential, geographical expansion, wildlife reservoirs, economic impact in Mediterranean agriculture, or their vector-borne complex epidemiological cycles.

2.2 Pathology, Toxicology and Biomarkers in Health and DiseaseThis research line is dedicated to:

(i) studies relating bioaerosols levels, meteorological parameters and allergy symptoms; the identification and molecular characterization of the most frequent allergens and development of specific and effective immunotherapy;

(ii) the identification of biomarkers in animal and human biofluids related to food intake, nutritional status and xenobiotics effects, as well as for diagnostic, prognostic and predictive purposes.

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