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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

Menu Logo Principal Tours university

Unité de Recherches Avicoles

Research activities of the “Defense of the Egg, Valorization, Evolution” team

Research activities of the “Defense of the Egg, Valorization, Evolution” team
© Inra
Our goals are to decipher the mechanisms involved in egg formation, to characterize egg components and their related functions, to preserve the quality of table and fertilized eggs, and finally to explore their variability in response to various parameters related to laying hens (physiology, genetics), the egg (egg conservation, age of birds) and to the development of the embryo.

Team leaders: Joël Gautron et Sophie Réhault-Godbert

Main objectives:

Our ultimate goals are to preserve and reinforce the quality of table and fertilized eggs. In such a context, we want to decipher the mechanisms involved in egg formation and the functions of egg molecules. The team has developed a specific expertise on protective systems (whose integrity ensures the safety of eggs), the embryonic structure, the eggshell biomineralization, the chemistry and physical characteristics of egg, its antimicrobial molecules… Our studies contribute to better define the functional and structural specificities of avian egg proteins in order to evaluate their potential in selection, Food and Health industries.


oeuf poule

Egg, Laying hen, physiology, storage, incubation, proteins, biomineralization, structure, functions :

Physiology of egg formation and biological functions of egg proteins: Data integration of high throughput analyses to better understand the origin of egg components and to identify functional candidates.

Functional characterization of matrix proteins and mineral transporters involved in the mineralization process of the shell, study of the interaction of proteins with the mineral phase.

Study of the role of egg proteins and of the extraembryonic structures on egg protection (functional and structural characterization of antibacterial proteins, antiviral, anti-parasitical egg molecules), the avian reproduction, and embryonic development.  Defining new markers of egg quality (proteins, metabolites, physicochemical parameters, mechanical parameters of the shell, membranes, etc...).


Regulation and variability in the quality of eggs:

Study of the impact of genetic, environmental, nutritional, and physiological factors on the various parameters of eggs, for the selection and optimization of conditions of chicken production, as well as egg storage and incubation. Phylogenetic and comparative functional approaches to evaluate the variability of the molecules between and within species.

Research projects:

Logos partenaires DOVE

- H2020 PPILOW, Poultry and PIg Low-input and Organic production systems’ Welfare 2019-2024. Partner. 
CASDAR Chick’tip. 2018-2021. Partner.
Contrat de Recherche partenariale “Bone and EggShell Quality ». 2018-2022. Partner.
Contrat de Recherche Partenariale « D-shell ». 2019. Coordinator.
Contrat d’initiative Régionale Région centre val de Loire « Volailles ». 2018-2022. Valorisation de l’Origine, Liens entre Acteurs, Identités LocaLes, Évolutions du Secteur avicole. Partner.
Projet de Recherche AGENAVI « Polcacao ». 2019-2021. POLymorphismes CAndidats de la CAlcification de la coquille de l’Œuf de poule. Partner. 
- Contrat Studium Professorship. Maxwell Hincke (Univ. Ottawa). 2018-2021. Innate immunity at biomineralized barriers. 
- SAPhyr-11, Structure-Activity and Phylogenetic Relationships of avian beta-defensin 11. 2017-2020. Coordinator. Région Centre Val de Loire.
- UMT-BIRD (aviculture, système et territoire). 2017-2021.

Realised projects:

Logos partenaires DOVE

- IMPACT, 2013-2017. Coordinator. ANR Blanc : Identification of Matrix Proteins Affecting Crystal Texture in chicken and guinea fowl effshells.
- MUSE, Medicinal Use of Eggs 2014-2016. Coordinator. Région Centre Val de Loire : Structural and functional characterization of edd proteins and peptides.
- ADAGIO, 2015-2017. Partner ; Intérêt régional. Région Centre Val de Loire : Human monoclonal antibodies for the diagnosis of egg allergy.
- Eggsperm, 2014. Coordinateur, Département PHASE. Emergence project
- OVAL, 2011-2014. Coordinateur. Régions Bretagne, Pays de la Loire, Centre Val de Loire : Valorization of clear eggs.
- Ovomining, 2009-2012. Coordinateur. ANR Blanc : Biochemical and functional characterization of newly identified antimicrobial molecules in the egg.
- RESCAPE, 2006-2009. Coordinateur. Européen STREP : Reducing Egg susceptibility to Contamination in Avian Production in Europe.
- Biocristal, 2006-2009. Partenaire. ANR Blanc : Biochemically driven Ca carbonate crystallization in corals, mollusks and eggshells.
- SABRE, 2006-2010 Partenaire. Européen : Cutting Edge Genomics for Sustainable Animal Breeding.
- Eggdefense, 2001-2004. Coordinateur. Europeen STREP : Improving quality and safety of hen eggs in new production systems by reinforcing the antimicrobial natural defense and by developing tools for grading eggs.

Major publications :

Gautron, J., Guyot, N., Brionne, A., Réhault-Godbert, S, 2019. Bioactive egg minor components. In J. Wu (Ed.), Egg as Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals for Human Health. 14. Royal Society of chemistry.

Hincke, M., Da Silva, M., Guyot, N., Gautron, J., McKee, M., Guabiraba-Brito, R., Rehault-Godbert, S, 2019. Dynamics of structural barriers and innate immune components during incubation of the avian egg : critical interplay between autonomous embryonic development and maternal anticipation. Journal of Innate Immunity, 111 (2), 111-124. , DOI : 10.1159/000493719

Rehault-Godbert, S., Guyot, N., Nys, Y, 2019. The Golden Egg: Nutritional Value, Bioactivities, and Emerging Benefits for Human Health. Nutrients, 11, 684; doi:10.3390/nu11030684

Da Silva, M., Dombre, C., Brionne, A., Monget, P., Chessé, M., De Pauw, M., Mills, M., Combes-Soia, L., Labas, V., Guyot, N., Nys, Y., Rehault-Godbert, S, 2018. The unique features of proteins depicting the chicken amniotic fluid. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, mcp.RA117.000459. , DOI : 10.1074/mcp.RA117.000459

Réhault-Godbert, S., & Guyot, N, 2018. Vitellogenesis and Yolk Proteins, Birds. In M. K. Skinner (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Reproduction. vol. 6, pp. 278–284. Academic Press: Elsevier.

Da Silva, M., Labas, V., Nys, Y., Réhault-Godbert, S, 2017. Investigating proteins and proteases composing amniotic and allantoic fluids during chicken embryonic development. Poultry Science, 96 (8), 2931-2941. , DOI : 10.3382/ps/pex058

Dombre, C., Guyot, N., Moreau, T., Monget, P., Da Silva, M., Gautron, J., Réhault-Godbert, S, 2017. Egg serpins: The chicken and/or the egg dilemma. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, 62, 120-132. , DOI : 10.1016/j.semcdb.2016.08.019

Guyot, N., Rehault-Godbert, S., Nys, Y., Baron, F, 2017. Understanding the natural antibacterial defences of egg white and their regulation. In: Julie Roberts, dir., Achieving sustainable production of eggs. Volume 1: Safety and quality. Cambridge, GBR : Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing Limited. 430 p.

Wilson PW, Suther CS, Bain MM, Icken W, Jones A, Quinlan-Pluck F, Olori V, Gautron J, Dunn IC, 2017. Understanding avian egg cuticle formation in the oviduct: a study of its origin and deposition. Biol Reprod. 97(1):39-49. doi: 10.1093/biolre/iox070.

Guyot, N., Labas, V., Harichaux, G., Chessé, M., Poirier, J.-C., Nys, Y., Rehault-Godbert, S, 2016. Proteomic analysis of egg white heparin-binding proteins: towards the identification of natural antibacterial molecules. Scientific Reports, 6, 27974.

Du, J., Hincke, M.T., Rose-Martel, M.T., Hennequet-Antier, C., Brionne, A., Cogburn, L.A.,Nys, Y., Gautron, J. (2015). Identifying specific proteins involved in eggshell membrane formation using gene expression analysis and bioinformatics. BMC Genomics, 16:792.

Marie, P., Labas, V., Brionne, A., Harichaux, G., Hennequet Antier, C., Nys, Y., Gautron, J. 2015. Quantitative proteomics and bioinformatic analysis provide new insight into protein function during avian eggshell biomineralization. Journal of Proteomics, 113, 178-193.

Marie, P., Labas, V., Brionne, A., Harichaux, G., Hennequet Antier, C., Rodriguez-Navarro, A. B., Nys, Y., Gautron, J. 2015. Quantitative proteomics provides new insights into chicken eggshell matrix protein functions during the primary events of mineralisation and the active calcification phase. Journal of Proteomics, 126, 140-154.

Rodriguez-Navarro, A. B., Marie, P., Nys, Y., Hincke, M. T., Gautron, J. 2015, Amorphous calcium carbonate controls avian eggshell mineralization: A new paradigm for understanding rapid eggshell calcification. Journal of Structural Biology, 190 (3), 291-303.

Brionne, A., Nys, Y., Hennequet Antier, C., Gautron, J. 2014. Hen uterine gene expression profiling during eggshell formation reveals putative proteins involved in the supply of minerals or in the shell mineralization process. BMC Genomics, 15, 17 p.

Herve, V., Meudal, H., Labas, V., Rehault Godbert, S., Gautron, J., Berges, M., Guyot, N., Delmas, A. F., Nys, Y., Landon, C. 2014. Three-dimensional NMR Structure of Hen Egg Gallin (Chicken Ovodefensin) Reveals a New Variation of the beta-Defensin Fold. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 289 (10), 7211 - 7220.

Bedrani, L., Helloin, E., Guyot, N., Rehault Godbert, S., Nys, Y. 2013. Passive maternal exposure to environmental microbes selectively modulates the innate defences of chicken egg white by increasing some of its antibacterial activities. BMC Microbiology, 13, 13 p.

Rehault Godbert, S., Labas, V., Helloin, E., Hervé-Grépinet, V., Slugocki, C., Berges, M., Bourin, M.-C., Brionne, A., Poirier, J.-C., Gautron, J., Coste, F., Nys, Y. 2013 . Ovalbumin-related protein X is a heparin-binding ov-serpin exhibiting antimicrobial activities. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288 (24), 17285-17295.

Bourin, M.-C., Gautron, J., Berges, M., Hennequet Antier, C., Cabau, C., Nys, Y., Rehault Godbert, S. 2012. Transcriptomic profiling of proteases and antiproteases in the liver of sexually mature hens in relation to vitellogenesis. BMC Genomics, 13, 14 p.

Hervé-Grépinet, V., Réhault Godbert, S., Labas, V., Magallon, T., Derache, C., Lavergne, M., Gautron, J., Lalmanach, A.-C., Nys, Y. 2010. Purification and characterization of avian beta-defensin 11, an antimicrobial peptide of the hen egg. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 54 (10), 4401-4408.