The new buzz word(s) in the field of biology is anything that ends with “omics” – such as metabolomics or proteomics. The omics part really just refers to the complete or total collection pool of compounds in the body. For example, metabolomics refers to the study of metabolites in the body, where metabolites are by-products of various cellular processes; while proteomics refers to the study of the complete set of proteins within an organism. Microbiomics is a little different, in that it is the study of entire group of microbial organisms (the microbiome) found within the animal’s digestive tract.

With respect to horses, the area of microbiomics is important because changes within the microbiome are associated with colic. Therefore, research has been conducted investigating the impact of nutritional components, antibiotics and probiotics on the microbiome in the horse.

One study recently reported differences in the fecal microbiome of mares prior to developing colic, and this could lead the way to develop measures to predict the onset of colic and potentially prevent it (Weese et al, 2015).

The study of metabolomics is also a growing area within the horse industry, as drugs that are metabolized by the body expel their metabolites into equine urine and may be used as “biomarkers” of drug use. Metabolites in urine have an advantage over blood samples because the parent drug is often not found in the blood. Developing additional screening methods for horse doping control is of great interest to the horse community. Currently more than 350 target metabolites can be detected in equine urine and the methodology may incorporate new substances easily (Kioussi et al., 2013).

Kioussi MK, Lyris EM, Angelis YS, Tsivou M, Koupparis MA, Georgakopoulos, CG. (2013) A generic screening methodology for horse doping control by LC-TOF-MS, GC-HRMS and GC-MS. Journal of Chromatography B. 941: 69-80. doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2013.10.008

Weese JS, Holcombe SJ, Embertson RM, Kurtz KA, Roessner HA, Jalali M and Wismer SE. (2015) Changes in the faecal microbiota of mares precede the development of post partum colic. Equine Veterinary Journal, 47: 641–649. doi: 10.1111/evj.12361