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Study of the role of fatty acids and associated membrane receptors in the regulation of physiological processes that allow dairy cows to adapt to nutritional challenges

ABG-100386 Master internship 6 months 569€
Bordeaux Sciences Agro
Bordeaux Nouvelle Aquitaine France
  • Biology
  • Agronomy, agri food

Employer organisation

Bordeaux Sciences Agro is a public institution of higher education and agronomic research under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Founded in 1962, it trains 600 students each year to follow the Agronomic Engineering curriculum through initial training under student or apprentice status, or one of the six Masters co-accredited with Bordeaux universities or national partners, or the specialised Master's degree with the CGE label. Higher education in agronomy, veterinary science and landscape in France includes 20 establishments that provide training for 17,000 students. These establishments offer training in sustainable development, agronomy, food, the environment, landscaping, veterinary medicine and regional planning. Through its local roots and its national and international partnerships, Bordeaux Sciences Agro participates in the influence of the Bordeaux university site by being one of the 7 founding members of the IDEX "Université de Bordeaux", contributes to the activities of the regional clusters and competitiveness centres and collaborates with the main players in research and higher education in agronomy and veterinary medicine in France within the framework of the Institut Agronomique Vétérinaire et Forestier de France.


          The offer of a Master2/end of study internship is part of an ANR Young Researcher project entitled FAIR_Cow (Free fatty acids receptors: integrators of physiological status of dairy cows). This is a 4-year project (2022-2025) of which the internship is the starting point. A thesis will continue the work done during the internship.

Context of the FAIR_Cow project

          The large variability in metabolic responses of dairy cows with similar genetic background and rearing system during the transition period (late gestation - early lactation) reflects individual differences in adaptive capacity. Inadequate adaptation of the dairy cow has negative effects on her health as well as on her production and reproductive performance. This leads to economic/profitability losses for the dairy industry as well as animal welfare problems. Despite numerous studies, deciphering the molecular mechanisms that promote coordinated and adapted metabolic responses or metabolic disturbances during the transition period of dairy cows remains a challenge that must be addressed. The objective of the FAIR_Cow project is to contribute to address this challenge.

          Briefly, the originality of the FAIR_Cow project is to consider plasma free fatty acids not only as indicators of metabolic status (and risk of metabolic disorders) but also as biologically active molecules acting as coordinators of metabolic responses. Thus, thanks to the FAIR_Cow project, the key free fatty acids linked to the adaptive capacities of dairy cows will be identified. The cellular mechanisms regulated by these key free fatty acids will be elucidated. Biomarkers associated with the signalling pathways regulated by free fatty acids will be identified. Finally, innovative detection methods will be developed to identify physiological processes regulated by free fatty acids in vivo. The knowledge gained during the FAIR_Cow project will pave the way for a better understanding of the high variability of metabolic responses in dairy cows during the difficult transition period. Finally, the tools for phenotyping the adaptive capacities of dairy cows developed during the FAIR_Cow project will open new perspectives for dairy herd management at the animal level.

Objective(s) of the internship

  1.  Collection of plasma from late pregnant and early lactating dairy cows with contrasting metabolic responses.
  2. Analysis of the presence of metabolic disturbance indicators in the collected plasmas.
  3. Analysis of the composition of free fatty acids (saturated, unsaturated, trans and conjugated, etc.) in the collected plasmas.
  4.  Identification of free fatty acids that are early indicators of adapted or non-adapted metabolic responses.


  •  The analysis of the free fatty acid composition of the collected plasmas will be done by different gas-liquid chromatography techniques.
  • The analysis of indicators of metabolic disturbance will be carried out using various analytical techniques (elisa assay, spectrometry, etc.).
  • The identification of fatty acids that are indicators of metabolic disturbances will be done by various statistical analyses.

Practical details

    The internship will be carried out on two different sites: the UMR Herbivores of INRAe in Clermont-Ferrand/Theix (Centre Clermont-Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Site de Theix, 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle) and the Bordeaux Sciences Agro engineering school (1, cours du Général de Gaulle, CS 40201 - 33175 Gradignan Cedex, France) Mobility will therefore be necessary between the 2 sites during the internship.
    The starting date of the internship may be postponed to the beginning of March 2022 if necessary.


  • The candidate should have a strong interest in animal physiology and a particular interest in understanding the cellular mechanisms that coordinate biological responses.
  • The candidate should be curious and autonomous.
  • Writing and presentation skills will be appreciated.
  • Knowledge of animal husbandry in general will be an advantage in understanding the project.

Starting date

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