Christine Leterrier

Christine Leterrier

Christine Leterrier

Scientific researcher INRAe

Christine is a senior scientist who has been involved in the study of emotions and welfare in poultry. Her present research is mainly focused on the relationship between gut health and behaviour. The aim of this work is to test the hypothesis that the gut microbiota has an influence on emotional behaviour and memory in birds. Dr. Christine Leterrier, is 57 years old, and initially trained as a veterinary doctor. She obtained a Master degree in ethology and her PhD thesis dealt with bone growth and lameness in broiler chickens. She is director of research at INRAe and was co-leader of her research group until 2013. She is a senior scientist who has been involved in the study of joint disorders and behaviour in broiler chickens, and emotions and welfare in poultry. Presently, Christine is studying the microbiota-gut-brain axis in birds. She was involved in the Welfare Quality® programme (2004-2009), two ANR programmes (Coordinator in SNP-BB, Behavioural genetics, 2010-2013; Workpackage leader in EmoFarm, Emotions in farm animals, 2010-2012) and several other international programmes with Germany and the U.K. She has carried out extensive work to characterize leg disorders such as “Twisted Legs” in broiler chickens and examined the involvement of bone growth in the development of this disease. Within the context of the Welfare Quality® program she then investigated new feeding strategies to reduce lameness. She combined her expertise in ethology and stress physiology to investigate stress and emotions in poultry. She was author of the first paper on heart rate variability analysis in freely moving birds and used this method combined with behavioural analyses to investigate emotions. In recent years, the gut microbiota has been shown to play a role in host behaviour and this has led to the concept of the gut-brain axis. Hence Christine’s present research is focused on the role of the gut microbiota on behaviour in birds and how the behavioural consequences of changes in microbiota can help detect chronic stress state. She has demonstrated that a probiotic designed for birds has beneficial effects on emotional reactivity and working memory in Japanese quail. The interaction between microbiota effects and host genotype effects is presently being investigated since they are suspected of explaining variations in susceptibility to diseases and stress.


Christine Leterrier
UMR Physiologie de la Reproduction & des Comportements
Centre INRAE Val-de-Loire
37380 Nouzilly

Phone : 33 (0)2 47 42 79 97

Mail :

Modification date : 02 August 2023 | Publication date : 15 July 2020 | Redactor : Fabien Cornilleau