Republic of Poland

Over 400,000 PLN from Opus 17 for UPWr

May 4th, 2020

Research on participatory resource management by local action groups and molecular mechanisms of iron transport across the placenta affecting the metabolism of this microelement in the newborn litter of domestic pigs and wild boars – these are two projects implemented in the Opus 17 program, for which scientists from the University of Environmental and Life Sciences in Wrocław received a total of over 400,000 PLN. The first one will be implemented by Prof. Marek Furmankiewicz from the Institute of Spatial Management UPWr, and the second – Prof. Józef Nicpoń, director of the Centre for Experimental Diagnostics and Innovative Biomedical Technologies at UPWr.

The project of the UPWr Institute of Spatial Management, Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy, won the 3rd place in the National Science Centre ranking for the OPUS 17 competition, section HS 4 (covering economics, finance, management, demography, socio-economic geography and urban planning). The interdisciplinary socio-economic research: "The concept of absorptive and transformational Europeanization of subnational entities as exemplified by local action groups in Poland" will be implemented in 2020-2022. The project includes theoretical analyses and empirical research on the ambiguous concept of "Europeanization".

fot. private archive

- The research particularly refers to two extreme types of Europeanization: transformational, understood here as a change of practices and preferences to the ones corresponding with the priorities and recommendations included in the EU programmes, and absorptive, which, in our project, we understand as adjusting organizational structures and action priorities only to the necessary minimum, so as to use the EU funds, without any desire to accept these changes permanently - says Prof. Marek Furmankiewicz.

Territorial partnerships, so-called local action groups are financed from European Union funds. They function as associations of people and institutions from the public, non-governmental and economic sectors, and their main goal is to support participative management of local resources, based on the needs and activities of residents of, primarily, rural areas. The 324 groups currently existing in Poland usually cover an area of two to a dozen or so municipalities, inhabited by 30-150 thousand inhabitants (the exception is eight local action groups existing in cities). They operate under the "Community-Led Local Development" approach (the so-called community-led development) of the European Union.

fot. Radosław Drożdżewski

Apart from the project leader Marek Furmankiewicz, the project will be carried out by Iga Solecka PhD Eng. from the Institute of Spatial Management UPWr, Krzysztof Janc PhD Hab. from the Institute of Geography and Regional Development of the University of Wrocław and Prof. Simon Lightfoot from the University of Leeds in Great Britain (School of Politics and International Studies).

Research headed by Prof. Józef Nicpoń are comparative and relate to disorders of iron metabolism in newborn pigs and wild boars. Iron is a microelement that participates in many life processes. One of them – erythropoiesis, i.e. the process of formation of red blood cells – requires a very large amount of this microelement, which is associated with the synthesis of haemoglobin. The most important symptoms of iron deficiency in the body are disorders in erythropoiesis and anaemia.

fot. Tomasz Lewandowski

- This disorder is common in suckling piglets of most modern domestic pig breeds. Its primary cause is a critically low level of iron accumulated in the liver during the foetal period. The main source of iron used by the bodies of newborn piglets is iron released from liver cells called hepatocytes and delivered to the bone marrow. In a newborn, the exogenous iron, absorbed in the digestive tract of piglets from colostrum and milk, does not contribute significantly to satisfying the body's needs. But we also know that the anaemia caused by iron deficiency does not occur in wild piglets, the ancestor of domestic pigs, which was domesticated 10,000 years ago and is one of the most popular species of wild mammals living in Poland - explains Prof. Józef Nicpoń.

For over 100 years, pig farmers have been conducting an intensive selection, which has led to the emergence of breeds with high fertility, reaching more than 10 piglets in a litter, which fundamentally distinguishes them from the wild boar (whose litters generally have 4-6 piglets). The project will make it possible to investigate the reasons for differences in the iron metabolism of piglets and newborn boars and whether this is due to e.g. the number of piglets in the litter.

fot. Shutterstock

- We hypothesize that the molecular mechanisms in the wild boar regulating iron flow through the placenta are adequate to ensure the right amount of iron for several newborns, but during the short time of the rapid increase in the fertility of newly created pig breeds, they have not adapted to the increased demand for this microelement. In our research, we will use, among other things, a modern technology of molecular biology – NGS (Next Generation Sequencing), which will allow identification of new genes potentially involved in iron transport through the placenta and its regulation – explains Prof. Józef Nicpoń and adds that they will also research whether supplementation of pregnant WBP (Polish Large White) breed pigs with bovine haemoglobin significantly increases iron levels in the liver of newborns. If it turned out that it does, breeders would get a new way of supplementation that could replace the intramuscular administration of iron preparations which is time-consuming, painful and stressful for piglets.