For more information please contact Prof. Dr. Csaba Hancz (hancz [DOT] csaba [AT] ke [DOT] hu).
Research topics for PhD study in the Animal Science Doctoral School
Research topics – 2019/20
Fumonisin exposure assessment in human populations
Fumonisin B1 (FB1) mycotoxin contaminants mainly maize but can occur in many other feed- and foodstuffs. According to the most recent survey in Central-Europe 46% of the feed samples tested for mycotoxin contamination contained fumonisin. This is the first time that exposure assessment will be carried out in Hungary, based on biomarker, analysis of food components, and consumer food consumption survey. People suffering from certain diseases can be more exposed to risk, the survey will cover celiac, cancer patients and people with kidney disease. Methodology: detection of FB1 in human urine samples, food frequency questionnaire, food sample analyses, PDI (probable daily intake) assessment.
Instrumental analysis of aroma properties and consumer preference of functional animal products
The objective of the research is to investigate the preference of functional foods. Beside the commonly used subjective judgement tests applied by marketing researches, the implementation of objective sensory panel tests is targeted. The effects of taste, odor, sound, brand, presumed quality, and other preconceptions on the consumer preference will be evaluated using the collected information. To describe the subjective (brand preference) and objective (measurable aroma) factors, the aroma properties of products will be analyzed with electronic sensor array systems, i.e. electronic nose and tongue. Products having the same composition and aroma, but having different branding on label, and vice versa, having the same label but different composition and aroma will be investigated within the targeted group of foods. Our results may support the understanding of consumer behavior, and the improvement of product profile framing methodologies.
Investigation of training and health status of sport horses by means of laboratory methods and correlative near-infrared technique
Equines are valuable partners of human athletes, contribute to their success, and represent great worth of investment. Timing of physical training and knowing the actual condition are essential for high performance. The monitoring of descriptive parameters of oxidative status is an intensively studied area. Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy has a potential in the rapid prediction of blood parameters during oxidative stress. Thus, evaluating the physical condition of a horse, predicting some physiological parameters that describe the level of training using a portable NIR device could lead to high quality scientific and commercial achievements. Blood samples of horses with different training background will be tested using laboratory NIR spectrometers. The relationship of the reference physiological parameters, the level of training, and the obtained blood spectra will be evaluated. Then, end-user measurement method applying quick handheld NIR instrument will be developed to evaluate the training induced changes, the oxidative status, and health conditions of horses.
Evaluation of Fumonizin B1 exposure through structural and functional changes in the gut
Above the tolerable level, mycotoxin contamination of animal feeds results in depressed production and aids to – mainly complex etiology – diseases. Fumonizines occur in corn World-wide, therefore in course of feeding corn based diets the exposure is likely inevitable. In pigs FB1 causes primarily pulmonary oedema, however, it has not been clearly explored if the toxin affects the structural and functional properties of the digestive system.
The scope of the PhD program is to assess the effects of FB1 on:
- nutrient digestibility
- digestive enzyme activities
- composition of the small intestinal and caecal microbiota
- caecal fermentation
- morphology of the gut
These investigations contribute to the complex assessment of toxic effect of FB1.
Nutrigenomic studies to improve pig performance and pork quality
In the production animal origin food, the aim is to maximize the performance of livestock and to exploit the genetic potential that can be achieved in an efficient and sustainable way by satisfying the needs of animals precisely. Examining the genetic background of differences between genotypes and individual variance within the genotype has become increasingly the center of scientific interest.
The aim of the research is to examine the extent of variability and function of genes responsible for growth, feed efficiency and pork quality determined by the genotype and feeding, as well as their interaction. In the planned studies, 3 genotypes with different growth dynamics and two feeding strategies are used that affect the pig performance and pork quality, primarily its protein / fat ratio. At the beginning and at the end of the studies, tissue samples are taken for gene expression assays and the growth parameters and the slaughter quality, as well as some meat quality traits are determined.
Improvement of rearing technology of pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) juveniles in RAS (Recirculating Aquaculture Systems)
The intensive rearing technology of percidae involved interest of several fish farmers due to increased consumer demand and decreasing of fisheries supply. However pikekperch is the most valuable percid fish in Hungary the traditional pond production can not supply the needs. Although several R&D results were already obtained in this field, recently the main obstacle remains the continuous and reliable supply of juveniles for RAS. The PhD topic would focus on the bottlenecks of juvenile production in RAS by improving larval rearing and weaning technologies.
The possible tasks of the PhD work:
1. improvement of rearing conditions – optimal tank size, light conditions, tank colour etc.
2. nutritional questions – optimization of starter feed, artemia enrichment
3. hygienic issues / decreasing of larval deformities and cannibalism
Possibilities of genomic selection in rabbit breeding
As molecular genetic methods are continuously becoming widespread in animal science we would like to examine the application possibilities of SNP chips in rabbit breeding. Although so far the genomic selection is mostly used in species where the individual value of the animals is high based on our previous activity (selecting the rabbits for muscle volume) the objective of this research topic is to identify the markers involved in muscle production. The final objective is to use only the identified markers as an extension of the present breeding program. Thus the leading position of the Pannon White rabbit breed from the aspect of meat production could be maintained. As the SNP chip is very expensive realization of this research topic require the funding additional projects.
The mixtures of Italian ryegrass and winter-cereals as new alternative forages in substitution for corn silage in dairy nutrition
High quality forage is the base of every lactating dairy ration. Corn silage and alfalfa hay require significant amounts of water to produce acceptable yields. However due to the prevailing climate change forced farmers to find other forage sources to replace corn silage in the diet of dairy cows. Mixtures of winter cereals and Italian ryegrass silage together to replace corn silage for high producing dairy cows in areas where corn production is failed due to different circumstances particularly climate change could be an alternative. Therefore this study is aimed to investigate the following parameters of two mixtures of Italian ryegrass and winter-cereals: chemical composition, ensiling process and aerobic stability, in sacco ruminal degradability, ruminal fermentation, net energy and metabolisable protein content.
Ecotoxicologycal aspects of uilization the brownfield territories
Due to industrialization there are big territories of brownfields all around the world. Mostly they are in the cities, and the revitalisation of them is a critical issue in terms of sustainability and for the sake of healthy urban environment. The soil of those fields has been degraded, lack of soil microbial life can be detected, while contains toxic substances.
During our research, the physical, chemical and biological quality and the contamination of brownfields territories are specified. Furthermore the plants of the brownfield and the extent of contamination of those plants are assessed. We are going to determine the microbes by microbiological methods, heavy metals by spectrophotometry, toxic organic molecules (such as PAH, TPH, etc.) by HPLC methods.
Follow-up of the effects of fumonisin B1 mycotoxin with a complex methodology consisting of hybrid imaging techniques (PET-MT) and biochemical methods
Fumonisin B1 is a characteristic cell membrane modification inducer mycotoxin, occurring mostly on corn and in corn based complete feeds. According to our preliminary results, FB1 induces hepatocellular membrane damage, pulmonary edema and red cell membrane compositional alterations (lipid profile and enzyme activities). In the planned research we intend to describe the effects of FB1 onto the liver and the gastrointestinal tract by means of PET-MR and 2-deoxy-2-(18F)fluoro-D-glucose tracer, to follow up the uptake, the accumulation and the metabolism of labelled glucose in intoxicated model animals. Flow cytometry is planned to be invented to analyse the red cell membrane damage, in particular the Annexin V associated apoptosis, which will be traced as well with gas chromatography. Results expected will aid the better recognition of the harmful effect of FB1 in mammalian species.
lipid analysis (chromatography), enzyme activity measurement with spectrophotometry, flow cytometry, PET-MR
Whole genom survey and evaluation of cattle and/or sheep populations
We will investigate how diverse or inbred is the population under scrutiny. We open possibility for development genetic trade-marks useful for breeding or for food industry. Data is suitable for analysis of performance traits and phenotypic values vs. genetic background, which can be applied in selection work. We also investigate applicability of newly emerging algorithms in our calculations.
Evaluation of alternative protein and energy sources in common carp’s feeding
Extensive systems of fish production based on natural feeds of fish ponds complemented with fodder are becoming less and less competitive because of its relatively high demand of water and area. Use of complete feeds is gaining space worldwide even in pond polyculture systems. Some parts of these feeds are traditionally fishmeal and fish oil originated from marine captures, sustainability of which is going to be more and more questionable. Replacing fishmeal and fish oil has remained one of the main objectives of developing more sustainable feeds in the past decades. The concrete goals of this PhD research project is developing and testing feeds with low and medium level of protein for common carp. These feeds supplemented with some natural feed sources (zooplankton and benthos) of the pond ecosystem can produce higher growth rate, better feed conversion and meat quality than traditional feeding of grains. Moreover, use of these semi-intensive carp feeds may also have several advantages from economic and ecologic points of views.
Ecological, technological and economic framework of fish husbandry having nature conservation as priority
The planned research will try to analyze and evaluate all important conditions which determine the viability of fish production in fishponds where nature protection has priority. (About 25% of the Hungarian fish pond area is situated on protected areas.) Based on the results recommendations can be settled considering place, water supply, stocking structure (species, age-groups, density) and obtainable yields. Economic aspects of production will also be analyzed evaluating cost-benefit ratio and comparing different calculation methods of net profit. Where data are available, effects of fish production on protected habitats and species will be evaluated, too.
Biology, ecology of common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) and its effect on agroecosystems (plant production and animal husbandry)
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) is considered to be the most harmful and widespread weed species in Hungary based on the results of the Fifth National Weed Survey (2007-2008). Its harmful effect is considerable from the points of agricultural and human aspects (pollen allergy). Its biological, ecological characteristics, its role in animal feeding, natural ecosystems and grasslands is only partly known. Research from these aspects and the results obtained can greatly contribute to the successful control of the weed.