Equine Microbiome Project

We are tackling many of the fundamental questions behind the role of the bacteria in the horse gut (the gut microbiome) in health and disease. Are the bacteria of ‘easy keepers’ different from ‘hard keepers’? Are there differences between the gut bacteria of breeds that are prone to laminitis? How does the gut microbiome change as horses age? Identifying the microbiome differences associated with health and disease is a necessary first step to designing therapies and/or interventions to restore balance and function to the digestive system of colicky or chronically laminitic horses. In order to make these comparisons, we need samples from hundreds of horses, and this is where you come in.

The Equine Microbiome Project offers every horse owner, and the public, the opportunity to join this important research, and learn about the microbiome of your horse and how your horse’s gut bacteria compares to others in the same breed, age, and gender group. Once you join the project you will receive a kit with everything you will need for sampling including instructions and return mailing envelope. Once you have submitted your fecal samples and filled out an anonymous survey describing your horse(s), health history, and diet, samples will be processed. You will receive a summary of your horse’s microbiome that you can share with your veterinarian, as well as compare with all of the other horses in the data set. As more samples are added, the data set will grow, and more interesting comparisons will be possible. You may want to send samples from different times of year, or before/after making a change in your horse’s feed.

Since its inception in 2015 this large-scale effort to characterize the gut bacteria of horses, The Equine Microbiome Project is poised to place the University of Delaware at the forefront of equine research. With undergraduate researchers at the core of the Biddle Lab team, this project will provide training for future animal scientists and veterinarians, providing a wide range of experiences including interfacing with the public, preparing samples, extracting DNA, and analyzing sequence data generated by the state of the art facilities at the Delaware Biotechnology Center. As the dataset grows, it will be the basis for future experiments linking the gut microbiome to health, and will become a valuable resource to equine scientists worldwide.

For more information or questions on how to further get involved, please contact Dr. Amy Biddle at asbiddle@udel.edu

Want to be involved in the research? Click below to order a kit and check out our horse owners page to complete the checklist!

To get involved without sending a kit, please consider making a donation!

Where does our research come from? Take a look! 


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