The Sub-department of General and Molecular Genetics works on developing and improving molecular methods of identifying pathogens in selected animal. In our unit, we carry out regular expert works for the Customs Office regarding species identification and genetic tests ordered by SagaFurs, Finland. We cooperate with police and prosecutors office in cases involving animals, by performing individual and species identification based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. We extract DNA from difficult and non-standard materials (archaeological, processed, biological traces). We perform a variety of DNA and RNA analyzes, including: parentage analysis (verification of origin), determining the expression of genes related to the performance traits of animals, measuring the number of copies of the pathogen. Our research also concerns the use of molecular markers (mtDNA, microsatellite sequences) and bioinformatics tools in assessing the genetic diversity of farm and wild populations of selected animal species. They also include phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyzes. Activities of this department are also focused on genetic basics of canine mammary gland tumour development with regard to mtDNA. Domestic dog is an animal model in oncogenetics due to the fact this study is important to understand molecular mechanisms of canine cancer as well as for human breast cancer. This research field was appreciated by National Science Centre (NCN), Poland. Research focuses on identification of biomarkers of canine mammary gland tumors on the basis of differences in whole mtDNA genome and evaluation of mtDNA regions’ methylation in canine mammary gland tumors and normal tissue which can be associated with malignant transformation.
The Sub-department of Apiculture works on development of honeybee management methods to maintain bee colonies resistant to anthropogenic pressures in order to meet the goals for sustainable agriculture. The challenge is to replace apicultural technologies based on application of harmful pharmaceuticals/chemicals with those applying natural feed additives, while at the same time keeping honeybees with increased natural resilience. This should reduce the depopulation of bee colonies and contamination of bee products consumed by humans. In particular, we strive to develop research on: apian fitness, longevity, and resistance mechanisms at the behavioral, biochemical, and molecular-genetic levels. We are able to make a creative contribution to the development of natural methods of fighting the Varroa and Nosema diseases in order to reduce the use of chemicals in sustainable apiculture. The bee-comb cell sizes may influence the rate of development, sealed brood stage length, life-span, values of morphometric traits, and resistance to harmful environmental conditions in honeybees and, what is more interesting, the biochemical characteristics (including key enzymes), ontogenesis and body sizes in their parasites. A Varroa-semi-resistant bee population will be maintained without any Varroa treatment using techniques based on the use of small-cell combs and combs with different cell sizes. New natural methods of fighting Nosema spp. infections and new advanced (also molecular) methods for diagnostics of Nosema disease will be developed.
The Sub-department implements a program to protect the genetic resources of two native breeds of hens: Greenleg Partridge and Polbar hens. The long-term improvement of the laying hen population has led to increased competitiveness and innovation of Messa breeding material by effectively transferring knowledge and technology from research centres to the breeding farm improving genetic material. For more than 40 years, the plant has maintained 3 breeding lines of Japanese Pharaoh meat quail and lines selected for high cholesterol content in egg yolks.
The Laboratory of Zoopsychology conducts research related to the behaviour of farm and companion animals. In addition, free therapeutic consultations are provided for carers of dogs and cats with emotional problems.
The Laura Kaufman Small Animal Teaching and Research Station
The station consists of an apiary and a poultry farm and has nine livestock buildings, four of which are used for breeding purposes and three for experimental purposes.
Currently, two breeds of hens and 6 lines of Japanese quail are kept at the Laura Kaufman Experimental Station of Small Animals in Felin, Lublin. Flocks of Polbar (Pb) and Greenleg Partridge (Zk) are included in the Programme for the Conservation of Genetic Resources of the Laying Hen Populations. Both populations participate in the Programme for Biological Progress in Animal Production and are subsidized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Active populations of these birds consist of around 1200 individuals each. Zk is the oldest strain of these birds, while Pb is the only breeding flock of this breed in the world.
University of Life Sciences in Lublin also owns 6 genetic lines of Japanese quail, out of which 5 are in breeding books and under evaluation of National Poultry Council – Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw. Three genetic lines (F11, F22, F33) belong to the meat type Faraon breed and have been kept in Lublin for 70 generations. Laying type Japanese quails (lines S11, S22, S33) were imported in 2007 from the Poultry Breeding Station in Ivanka on the Danube and have been under University care for 30 generations. The reproduction of each line is based on 200 females and 60 males of the core stock. Breeding work aims to improve reproductive and meat traits while maintaining as much genetic variability as possible.
The resources of the Laura Kaufman Teaching and Research Station for Small Animals serve primarily to educate successive generations of students of such majors as: Animal Science, Veterinary Medicine, Animal Behavior or Bioengineering, and recently also Animal Care and Animal-Assisted Therapy or Food Safety and Certification. In addition to field classes and internships, students conduct observations and experiments that form the basis of their diploma theses, as well as scientific papers, since the birds kept at the station are in the strict circle of interest of the Student’s Research Group of Poultry Biology, Breeding and Management.
A very important aspect of the Station’s operation is the possibility to conduct scientific research. The farm has a building adapted to rear small groups of quails (cage system), the equipment providing similar possibilities in the hen houses (litter system) has been implemented. The infrastructure of the station allows for conducting research on birds breeding, various methods of rearing and feeding, as well as on poultry behaviour and the quality of the obtained raw materials.
Due to the multifunctional character of the Station administered by the Institute of Biological Basis of Animal Production, its functions are divided between various members of staff: