• Characterisation of the Whole Blood mRNA Transcriptome in Holstein-Friesian and Jersey Calves in Response to Gradual Weaning

      Johnston, Dayle; Earley, Bernadette; Cormican, Paul; Kenny, David A.; McCabe, Matthew; Kelly, Alan K; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union; et al. (PLOS, 2016-08-01)
      Weaning of dairy calves is an early life husbandry management practice which involves the changeover from a liquid to a solid feed based diet. The objectives of the study were to use RNA-seq technology to examine the effect of (i) breed and (ii) gradual weaning, on the whole blood mRNA transcriptome of artificially reared Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves. The calves were gradually weaned over 14 days (day (d) -13 to d 0) and mRNA transcription was examined one day before gradual weaning was initiated (d -14), one day after weaning (d 1), and 8 days after weaning (d 8). On d -14, 550 genes were differentially expressed between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves, while there were 490 differentially expressed genes (DEG) identified on d 1, and 411 DEG detected eight days after weaning (P < 0.05; FDR < 0.1). No genes were differentially expressed within breed, in response to gradual weaning (P > 0.05). The pathways, gene ontology terms, and biological functions consistently over-represented among the DEG between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey were associated with the immune response and immune cell signalling, specifically chemotaxis. Decreased transcription of several cytokines, chemokines, immunoglobulin-like genes, phagocytosis-promoting receptors and g-protein coupled receptors suggests decreased monocyte, natural killer cell, and T lymphocyte, chemotaxis and activation in Jersey compared to Holstein-Friesian calves. Knowledge of breed-specific immune responses could facilitate health management practices better tailored towards specific disease sensitivities of Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves. Gradual weaning did not compromise the welfare of artificially-reared dairy calves, evidenced by the lack of alterations in the expression of any genes in response to gradual weaning.
    • Differences in the bovine milk whey proteome between early pregnancy and the estrous cycle

      Johnston, Dayle; Malo Estepa, Irene; Ebhardt, H. A.; Crowe, Mark A.; Diskin, Michael G.; Science Foundation Ireland; 13/IA/2025 (Elsevier, 2018-04-12)
      Current bovine pregnancy detection methods are not reliable until at least day 28 post artificial insemination (AI). The bovine estrous cycle is approximately 21 days; consequently, producers miss an opportunity to rebreed at the next estrous event. Therefore, commercial interest exists for the discovery of novel biomarkers of pregnancy which could reliably detect pregnancy status at or before day 21 of pregnancy. The objective of the present study was to use liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to perform a global, label-free, proteomics study on (i) milk whey and (ii) extracellular vesicle (EV) enriched milk whey samples, from day 21 of pregnancy, compared with day 21 of the estrous cycle, in order to identify potential protein biomarkers of early pregnancy. The estrous cycles of 10 dairy cows were synchronized, they went through one (control) estrous cycle and these cows were artificially inseminated during the following estrus. These cows were confirmed pregnant by ultrasound scanning. Milk whey samples were collected on day 21 of the estrous cycle and on day 21 post AI. Milk whey samples and EV enriched milk whey samples were analyzed by LC-MS/MS and subsequent analyzes of the label-free quantitative data was performed in MaxQuant and Perseus. Four proteins (APOB, SPADH1, PLIN2 and LPO) were differentially expressed between the proteomes of milk whey from day 21 of pregnancy and day 21 of the estrous cycle (P < 0.05). Ten proteins (PIGR, PGD, QSOX1, MUC1, SRPRA, MD2, GAPDH, FOLR1, GPRC5B and HHIPL2) were differentially expressed between the proteomes of EV enriched milk whey from day 21 of pregnancy and day 21 of the estrous cycle (P < 0.05). These proteins are potential milk whey biomarkers of early pregnancy.
    • Differences in the bovine milk whey proteome between early pregnancy and the estrous cycle

      Johnston, Dayle; Malo Estepa, Irene; Ebhardt, H. Alexander; Crowe, Mark; Diskin, Michael G.; Science Foundation Ireland; 13/IA/2025 (Elsevier, 2018-04-12)
      Current bovine pregnancy detection methods are not reliable until at least day 28 post artificial insemination (AI). The bovine estrous cycle is approximately 21 days; consequently, producers miss an opportunity to rebreed at the next estrous event. Therefore, commercial interest exists for the discovery of novel biomarkers of pregnancy which could reliably detect pregnancy status at or before day 21 of pregnancy. The objective of the present study was to use liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to perform a global, label-free, proteomics study on (i) milk whey and (ii) extracellular vesicle (EV) enriched milk whey samples, from day 21 of pregnancy, compared with day 21 of the estrous cycle, in order to identify potential protein biomarkers of early pregnancy. The estrous cycles of 10 dairy cows were synchronized, they went through one (control) estrous cycle and these cows were artificially inseminated during the following estrus. These cows were confirmed pregnant by ultrasound scanning. Milk whey samples were collected on day 21 of the estrous cycle and on day 21 post AI. Milk whey samples and EV enriched milk whey samples were analyzed by LC-MS/MS and subsequent analyzes of the label-free quantitative data was performed in MaxQuant and Perseus. Four proteins (APOB, SPADH1, PLIN2 and LPO) were differentially expressed between the proteomes of milk whey from day 21 of pregnancy and day 21 of the estrous cycle (P < 0.05). Ten proteins (PIGR, PGD, QSOX1, MUC1, SRPRA, MD2, GAPDH, FOLR1, GPRC5B and HHIPL2) were differentially expressed between the proteomes of EV enriched milk whey from day 21 of pregnancy and day 21 of the estrous cycle (P < 0.05). These proteins are potential milk whey biomarkers of early pregnancy.
    • Electronic feeding behavioural data as indicators of health status in dairy calves

      Johnston, Dayle; Kenny, David A.; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead M.; Kelly, Alan K; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
      The objectives of this study were (i) to characterise clinical health in dairy calves on an Irish research farm during the artificial calf-rearing period and (ii) to determine whether calves’ pre-weaning intakes and feeding behaviour, recorded by electronic calf feeders, changes in response to incidents of bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Holstein-Friesian (H-F) and Jersey (J) calves were fed by automatic milk replacer (MR) and concentrate feeders. Feeding behaviour, including MR consumption, drinking speed, number of rewarded and unrewarded visits to the feeder as well as concentrate consumption, was recorded by the feeders. A modified version of the Wisconsin calf health scoring criteria chart was used to score calves’ clinical measurements and identify incidences of BRD. Thus, 40% of calves were found to have at least one incident of BRD. Feeding behaviour was altered during incidents of BRD. The number of unrewarded visits to the feeder was reduced, by approximately four visits, for calves with BRD during the 3 d prior to the identification of BRD (P < 0.05) and tended to be reduced during the 7 d following the identification of BRD (P = 0.05), compared with healthy calves. Additionally, calves with BRD had a tendency for reduced net energy intake (approximately 8%) during the 3 d prior to the identification of BRD, compared with healthy calves. Therefore, calf feeding behavioural data, recorded by electronic feeders during the pre-weaning period, can indicate cases of BRD.
    • Experimental challenge with bovine respiratory syncytial virus in dairy calves: bronchial lymph node transcriptome response

      Johnston, Dayle; Earley, Bernadette; McCabe, Matthew S.; Lemon, Ken; Duffy, Catherine; McMenamy, Michael; Cosby, S. Louise; Kim, JaeWoo; Blackshields, Gordon; Taylor, Jeremy F.; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-10-14)
      Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) is the leading cause of mortality in calves. The objective of this study was to examine the response of the host’s bronchial lymph node transcriptome to Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus (BRSV) in a controlled viral challenge. Holstein-Friesian calves were either inoculated with virus (103.5TCID50/ml×15ml) (n=12) or mock challenged with phosphate bufered saline (n=6). Clinical signs were scored daily and blood was collected for haematology counts, until euthanasia at day 7 post-challenge. RNA was extracted and sequenced (75bp paired-end) from bronchial lymph nodes. Sequence reads were aligned to the UMD3.1 bovine reference genome and diferential gene expression analysis was performed using EdgeR. There was a clear separation between BRSV challenged and control calves based on gene expression changes, despite an observed mild clinical manifestation of the disease. Therefore, measuring host gene expression levels may be benefcial for the diagnosis of subclinical BRD. There were 934 diferentially expressed genes (DEG) (p<0.05, FDR <0.1, fold change >2) between the BRSV challenged and control calves. Over-represented gene ontology terms, pathways and molecular functions, among the DEG, were associated with immune responses. The top enriched pathways included interferon signaling, granzyme B signaling and pathogen pattern recognition receptors, which are responsible for the cytotoxic responses necessary to eliminate the virus.
    • Illumina MiSeq 16S amplicon sequence analysis of bovine respiratory disease associated bacteria in lung and mediastinal lymph node tissue

      Johnston, Dayle; Earley, Bernadette; Cormican, Paul; Murray, Gerard; Kenny, David A.; Waters, Sinead M.; McGee, Mark; Kelly, Alan K; McCabe, Matthew; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (Biomed Central, 2017-05-02)
      Background Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is caused by growth of single or multiple species of pathogenic bacteria in lung tissue following stress and/or viral infection. Next generation sequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA gene PCR amplicons (NGS 16S amplicon analysis) is a powerful culture-independent open reference method that has recently been used to increase understanding of BRD-associated bacteria in the upper respiratory tract of BRD cattle. However, it has not yet been used to examine the microbiome of the bovine lower respiratory tract. The objective of this study was to use NGS 16S amplicon analysis to identify bacteria in post-mortem lung and lymph node tissue samples harvested from fatal BRD cases and clinically healthy animals. Cranial lobe and corresponding mediastinal lymph node post-mortem tissue samples were collected from calves diagnosed as BRD cases by veterinary laboratory pathologists and from clinically healthy calves. NGS 16S amplicon libraries, targeting the V3-V4 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene were prepared and sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq. Quantitative insights into microbial ecology (QIIME) was used to determine operational taxonomic units (OTUs) which corresponded to the 16S rRNA gene sequences. Results Leptotrichiaceae, Mycoplasma, Pasteurellaceae, and Fusobacterium were the most abundant OTUs identified in the lungs and lymph nodes of the calves which died from BRD. Leptotrichiaceae, Fusobacterium, Mycoplasma, Trueperella and Bacteroides had greater relative abundances in post-mortem lung samples collected from fatal cases of BRD in dairy calves, compared with clinically healthy calves without lung lesions. Leptotrichiaceae, Mycoplasma and Pasteurellaceae showed higher relative abundances in post-mortem lymph node samples collected from fatal cases of BRD in dairy calves, compared with clinically healthy calves without lung lesions. Two Leptotrichiaceae sequence contigs were subsequently assembled from bacterial DNA-enriched shotgun sequences. Conclusions The microbiomes of the cranial lung lobe and mediastinal lymph node from calves which died from BRD and from clinically healthy H-F calves have been characterised. Contigs corresponding to the abundant Leptotrichiaceae OTU were sequenced and found not to be identical to any known bacterial genus. This suggests that we have identified a novel bacterial species associated with BRD.
    • Risk factors associated with exposure to bovine respiratory disease pathogens during the peri-weaning period in dairy bull calves

      Murray, Gerard; More, Simon J; Clegg, Tracy A; Earley, Bernadette; O'Neill, Ronan G.; Johnston, Dayle; Gilmore, John; Nosov, Mikhail; McElroy, Máire; Inzana, Thomas J; et al. (Biomed Central, 2018-02-27)
      Background Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) remains among the leading causes of death of cattle internationally. The objective of this study was to identify risk factors associated with exposure to BRD pathogens during the peri-weaning period (day (d)-14 to d 14 relative to weaning at 0) in dairy bull calves using serological responses to these pathogens as surrogate markers of exposure. Clinically normal Holstein-Friesian and Jersey breed bull calves (n = 72) were group housed in 4 pens using a factorial design with calves of different breeds and planes of nutrition in each pen. Intrinsic, management and clinical data were collected during the pre-weaning (d − 56 to d − 14) period. Calves were gradually weaned over 14 days (d − 14 to d 0). Serological analysis for antibodies against key BRD pathogens (BRSV, BPI3V, BHV-1, BHV-4, BCoV, BVDV and H. somni) was undertaken at d − 14 and d 14. Linear regression models (for BVDV, BPI3V, BHV-1, BHV-4, BCoV and H. somni) and a single mixed effect random variable model (for BRSV) were used to identify risk factors for changes in antibody levels to these pathogens. Results BRSV was the only pathogen which demonstrated clustering by pen. Jersey calves experienced significantly lower changes in BVDV S/P than Holstein-Friesian calves. Animals with a high maximum respiratory score (≥8) recorded significant increases in H. somni S/P during the peri-weaning period when compared to those with respiratory scores of ≤3. Haptoglobin levels of between 1.32 and 1.60 mg/ml at d − 14 were significantly associated with decreases in BHV-1 S/N during the peri-weaning period. Higher BVDV S/P ratios at d − 14 were significantly correlated with increased changes in serological responses to BHV-4 over the peri-weaning period. Conclusions Haptoglobin may have potential as a predictor of exposure to BHV-1. BRSV would appear to play a more significant role at the ‘group’ rather than ‘individual animal’ level. The significant associations between the pre-weaning levels of antibodies to certain BRD pathogens and changes in the levels of antibodies to the various pathogens during the peri-weaning period may reflect a cohort of possibly genetically linked ‘better responders’ among the study population.