College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Animal & Avian Sciences

USDA Grant

Tom Porter in the Horse Barn

Dr. Tom Porter and Dr. Hsiao-Ching Liu at North Carolina State University
have been awarded a five hundred thousand dollar grant from the National
Institute of Food and Agriculture for their grant proposal titled "MicroRNA
Regulation of Metabolic Pathways during the Metabolic Switch in Broiler
Chickens."

The transition from embryonic development to life after hatching in chickens
represents a massive switch in their metabolism from primarily utilizing fat
stored in the egg yolk to primarily utilizing carbohydrates in their chicken
feed. This metabolic switch is essential for the chick to successfully
transition from development in the egg to growth on corn-based feed. However,
regulation of this metabolic switch is not understood. Dr. Porter and Dr. Liu
hypothesize that very short RNA molecules called microRNAs play an important
role in the metabolic switch that is essential to efficient growth of broiler
chickens by regulating levels of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) in metabolic
pathways. Their collaborator on the project, Dr. Nishanth Sunny in our
department, will be performing metabolomics analysis on the project. The
experiments to be performed in this project will define the contributions of
miRNAs to the metabolic switch during development that is critical to growth
on corn-based feed in broiler chickens. Completion of this research will lead
to new information that can be used in poultry breeding programs and by the
poultry companies to produce meat more efficiently for the world’s growing
population.

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