• Extensive Genomic Diversity among Bovine-Adapted Staphylococcus aureus: Evidence for a Genomic Rearrangement within CC97

      Budd, Kathleen E; McCoy, Finola; Monecke, Stefan; Cormican, Paul; Mitchell, Jennifer; Keane, Orla M; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 6082 (PLoS, 2015-08-28)
      Staphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen associated with both human and veterinary disease and is a common cause of bovine mastitis. Genomic heterogeneity exists between S. aureus strains and has been implicated in the adaptation of specific strains to colonise particular mammalian hosts. Knowledge of the factors required for host specificity and virulence is important for understanding the pathogenesis and management of S. aureus mastitis. In this study, a panel of mastitis-associated S. aureus isolates (n = 126) was tested for resistance to antibiotics commonly used to treat mastitis. Over half of the isolates (52%) demonstrated resistance to penicillin and ampicillin but all were susceptible to the other antibiotics tested. S. aureus isolates were further examined for their clonal diversity by Multi-Locus Sequence Typing (MLST). In total, 18 different sequence types (STs) were identified and eBURST analysis demonstrated that the majority of isolates grouped into clonal complexes CC97, CC151 or sequence type (ST) 136. Analysis of the role of recombination events in determining S. aureus population structure determined that ST diversification through nucleotide substitutions were more likely to be due to recombination compared to point mutation, with regions of the genome possibly acting as recombination hotspots. DNA microarray analysis revealed a large number of differences amongst S. aureus STs in their variable genome content, including genes associated with capsule and biofilm formation and adhesion factors. Finally, evidence for a genomic arrangement was observed within isolates from CC97 with the ST71-like subgroup showing evidence of an IS431 insertion element having replaced approximately 30 kb of DNA including the ica operon and histidine biosynthesis genes, resulting in histidine auxotrophy. This genomic rearrangement may be responsible for the diversification of ST71 into an emerging bovine adapted subgroup.
    • Genetic basis of benzimidazole resistance in Teladorsagia circumcincta in Ireland

      Keegan, Jason D; Good, Barbara; de Waal, Theo; Fanning, June; Keane, Orla M; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Biomed Central, 2017-02-13)
      Resistance to benzimidazole (BZ) anthelmintics is common in ovine nematodes of economic importance. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) at three positions in the isotype 1 β– tubulin gene have been associated with BZ resistance and molecular tests for the detection of BZ resistance have been developed. In order to determine if such tests are practicable in Ireland the polymorphisms associated with BZ resistance must be identified. To this end, BZ-resistant nematodes were recovered from four farms in Ireland. Resistant Teladorsagia circumcincta, Cooperia curticei and Trichostrongylus colubriformis were recovered, with resistant T. circumcincta the most common and the only species studied further. Sequencing of the isotype 1 β–tubulin gene from resistant T. circumcincta identified a T - A transition, resulting in an F200Y substitution known to be responsible for BZ-resistance, on three of the farms. However, on the fourth farm the frequency of the resistant A allele was only 0.33 indicating another BZ resistance mechanism may be present on this farm. An additional polymorphism resulting in a substitution of glutamate for leucine (E198L) was also found on this farm at low frequency (0.17). No polymorphisms at position 167 were identified on any farm. Therefore, molecular tests to detect BZ resistance in T. circumcincta in Ireland could prove useful; however, they may result in some instances of resistance remaining undetected.
    • High level of treatment failure with commonly used anthelmintics on Irish sheep farms

      Keane, Orla M; Keegan, Jason D; Good, Barbara; de Waal, Theo; Fanning, June; Gottstein, Michael; Casey, Micheal; Hurley, Christine; Sheehan, Maresa (Biomed Central, 2014-08-03)
      Background: In 2013 a Technology Adoption Program for sheep farmers was established to encourage the implementation of best management practices on sheep farms in Ireland. There were 4,500 participants in this programme in 2013. As part of this programme, farmers had the option to carry out a drench test to establish the efficacy of their anthelmintic treatment. Results: Flock faecal samples were collected before and after treatment administration and gastrointestinal nematode eggs enumerated. In total there were 1,893 participants in the task, however only 1,585 included both a pre- and post-treatment faecal sample. Of those, 1,308 provided information on the anthelmintic product that they used with 46%, 23% and 28% using a benzimidazole (BZ), levamisole (LEV) and macrocyclic lactone (ML) product respectively. The remaining farmers used a product inapplicable for inclusion in the task such as a flukicide or BZ/LEV combination product. Samples were included for analysis of drench efficacy if the pre-treatment flock egg count was ≥200 eggs per gram and the interval post-sampling was 10–14 days for BZ products, 4–7 days for LEV products and 14–18 days for ML products. These criteria reduced the number of valid tests to 369, 19.5% of all tests conducted. If the reduction post-treatment was ≥95% the treatment was considered effective. Only 51% of treatments were considered effective using this criterion. There was a significant difference in efficacy between the anthelmintic drug classes with BZ effective in only 30% of treatments, LEV effective in 52% of cases and ML effective in 76% of cases. Conclusions: Gastrointestinal nematode anthelmintic treatments, as practiced on Irish farms, have a high failure rate. There was a significant difference between the efficacies of the anthelmintic classes with BZ the least effective and ML the most effective.
    • The host immune response to gastrointestinal nematode infection in sheep

      McRae, Kathryn M.; Stear, Michael J.; Good, Barbara; Keane, Orla M; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Allan and Grace Kay Overseas Scholarship; European Union; BBSRC Animal Health Research Club; BB/l004070/1 (Wiley, 2015-10-20)
      Gastrointestinal nematode infection represents a major threat to the health, welfare and productivity of sheep populations worldwide. Infected lambs have a reduced ability to absorb nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in morbidity and occasional mortality. The current chemo-dominant approach to nematode control is considered unsustainable due to the increasing incidence of anthelmintic resistance. In addition there is growing consumer demand for food products from animals not subjected to chemical treatment. Future mechanisms of nematode control must rely on alternative, sustainable strategies such as vaccination or selective breeding of resistant animals. Such strategies take advantage of the host's natural immune response to nematodes. The ability to resist gastrointestinal nematode infection is considered to be dependent on the development of a protective acquired immune response; although the precise immune mechanisms involved in initiating this process remain to be fully elucidated. In this paper current knowledge on the innate and acquired host immune response to gastrointestinal nematode infection in sheep and the development of immunity is reviewed.
    • Increased detection of mastitis pathogens by real-time PCR compared to bacterial culture

      Keane, Orla M; Budd, Kathleen E; Flynn, James; McCoy, Finola (British Veterinary Association, 2013-08-23)
      Rapid and accurate identification of mastitis pathogens is important for disease control. Bacterial culture and isolate identification is considered the gold standard in mastitis diagnosis but is time consuming and results in many culture-negative samples. Identification of mastitis pathogens by PCR has been proposed as a fast and sensitive alternative to bacterial culture. The results of bacterial culture and PCR for the identification of the aetiological agent of clinical mastitis were compared. The pathogen identified by traditional culture methods was also detected by PCR in 98 per cent of cases indicating good agreement between the positive results of bacterial culture and PCR. A mastitis pathogen could not be recovered from approximately 30 per cent of samples by bacterial culture, however, an aetiological agent was identified by PCR in 79 per cent of these samples. Therefore, a mastitis pathogen was detected in significantly more milk samples by PCR than by bacterial culture (92 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively) although the clinical relevance of PCR-positive culture-negative results remains controversial. A mixed infection of two or more mastitis pathogens was also detected more commonly by PCR. Culture-negative samples due to undetected Staphylococcus aureus infections were rare. The use of PCR technology may assist in rapid mastitis diagnosis, however, accurate interpretation of PCR results in the absence of bacterial culture remains problematic.
    • A nationwide survey of anthelmintic treatment failure on sheep farms in Ireland

      Keegan, Jason D; Keane, Orla M; Good, Barbara; de Waal, Theo; Denny, Marian; Hanrahan, James P; Fitzgerald, William; Sheehan, Maresa; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Biomed Central, 2017-02-09)
      Background Between 2013 and 2015 the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) administered a sheep technology adoption programme (STAP), with the aim of increasing profitability on Irish sheep farms by encouraging the adoption of best management practices. One of the options available to STAP participants was to test the efficacy of the anthelmintic treatment (benzimadazole, levamisole or macrocyclic lactone) used in their flocks by means of a drench test, which is a modification of the faecal egg count reduction test; individual faecal samples were collected from the same group of lambs before and after anthelmintic treatment, the number of eggs present pre and post treatment was subsequently determined from a pooled sample. Results In total, 4211 drench tests were undertaken by farmers during the 3 years of the programme. Information on the anthelmintic product used was available for 3771 of these tests; anthelmintics from the classes benzimidazole (BZ), levamisole (LV) and macrocyclic lactone (ML) (avermectins (AVM) plus moxidectin (MOX)) were used in 42.0%, 23.4% and 32.5% of tests, respectively. The remaining 2.1% of tests involved an inappropriate product. The efficacy of treatment against ‘other trichostrongyles’ (excluding Nematodirus spp and Strongyloides papillosus.) could be established for 1446 tests, and 51% of these tests were considered effective (i.e. a reduction of faecal egg count (FEC) ≥ 95%). There was a significant difference among the drug groups in efficacy; 31.5%, 51.9%, 62.5% and 84% of treatments were considered effective for BZ, LV, AVM, MOX, respectively. The efficacy of treatment against Nematodirus spp. could be established for 338 tests and the overall efficacy was 96%. Conclusions Due to the significant difference among the anthelmintic classes for efficacy against ‘other trichostrongyles’ along with the high level of efficacy against Nematodirus spp., a genus for which anthelmintic resistance is rarely reported, it is concluded that anthelmintic resistance was responsible for the majority of the anthelmintic treatment failures observed.
    • Pathogen profile of clinical mastitis in Irish milk-recording herds reveals a complex aetiology

      Keane, Orla M; Budd, Kathleen E; Flynn, James; McCoy, Finola (British Veterinary Association, 2013-05-21)
      Effective mastitis control requires knowledge of the predominant pathogen challenges on the farm. In order to quantify this challenge, the aetiological agents associated with clinical mastitis in 30 milk-recording dairy herds in Ireland over a complete lactation were investigated. Standard bacteriology was performed on 630 pretreatment quarter milk samples, of which 56 per cent were culture-positive, 42 per cent culture-negative and 2 per cent contaminated. Two micro-organisms were isolated from almost 5 per cent of the culture-positive samples. The bacteria isolated were Staphylococcus aureus (23 per cent), Streptococcus uberis (17 per cent), Escherichia coli (9 per cent), Streptococcus species (6 per cent), coagulase-negative Staphylococci (4 per cent) and other species (1 per cent). A wide variety of bacterial species were associated with clinical mastitis, with S aureus the most prevalent pathogen overall, followed by S uberis. However, the bacterial challenges varied widely from farm to farm. In comparison with previous reports, in the present study, the contagious pathogens S aureus and Streptococcus agalactiae were less commonly associated with clinical mastitis, whereas, the environmental pathogens S uberis and E coli were found more commonly associated with clinical mastitis. While S aureus remains the pathogen most commonly associated with intramammary infection in these herds, environmental pathogens, such as S uberis and E coli also present a considerable challenge.
    • Response to Teladorsagia circumcincta infection in Scottish Blackface lambs with divergent phenotypes for nematode resistance

      McRae, Kathryn M.; Good, Barbara; Hanrahan, James P; Glynn, Assumpta; O'Connell, Mary J.; Keane, Orla M; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Allan and Grace Kay Overseas Scholarship (Elsevier, 2014-10-24)
      The objective of this study was to identify Scottish Blackface lambs that were at the extremes of the spectrum of resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes and characterise their response to an experimental nematode challenge. Lambs (n = 90) were monitored for faecal egg count (FEC) (2 samples from each of 2 independent natural infections). The most resistant (n = 10) and susceptible (n = 10) individuals were selected and challenged with 30,000 Teladorsagia circumcincta larvae (L3) at 9 months of age. Response to infection was monitored by measuring FEC, plasma pepsinogen, serum antibodies against nematode larval antigens and haematology profile, until necropsy at 71 days post infection. Worm burden, worm fecundity and the level of anti-nematode antibodies in abomasal mucosa were determined at necropsy. FEC was consistently higher in susceptible animals (P < 0.05), validating the selection method. Worm fecundity was significantly reduced in resistant animals (P = 0.03). There was also a significant correlation (r = 0.88; P < 0.001) between the number of adult worms and FEC at slaughter. There was no effect of phenotype (resistance/susceptibility) on plasma pepsinogen or on haematology profile. Phenotype had a significant effect on the level of anti-nematode IgA antibodies in serum (P < 0.01), reflecting a higher peak in resistant animals at day 7 post infection. It is concluded that significant variation in the response to gastrointestinal nematode challenge exists within the Scottish Blackface population with resistant animals displaying significantly lower FEC, lower worm fecundity and higher concentration of anti-nematode IgA antibodies in serum.
    • The Roles of Whole-Genome and Small-Scale Duplications in the Functional Specialization of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Genes

      Fares, Mario A; Keane, Orla M; Toft, Christina; Carretero-Paulet, Lorenzo; Jones, Gary W (PLoS, 2013-01-03)
      Researchers have long been enthralled with the idea that gene duplication can generate novel functions, crediting this process with great evolutionary importance. Empirical data shows that whole-genome duplications (WGDs) are more likely to be retained than small-scale duplications (SSDs), though their relative contribution to the functional fate of duplicates remains unexplored. Using the map of genetic interactions and the re-sequencing of 27 Saccharomyces cerevisiae genomes evolving for 2,200 generations we show that SSD-duplicates lead to neo-functionalization while WGD-duplicates partition ancestral functions. This conclusion is supported by: (a) SSD-duplicates establish more genetic interactions than singletons and WGD-duplicates; (b) SSD-duplicates copies share more interaction-partners than WGD-duplicates copies; (c) WGDduplicates interaction partners are more functionally related than SSD-duplicates partners; (d) SSD-duplicates gene copies are more functionally divergent from one another, while keeping more overlapping functions, and diverge in their subcellular locations more than WGD-duplicates copies; and (e) SSD-duplicates complement their functions to a greater extent than WGD–duplicates. We propose a novel model that uncovers the complexity of evolution after gene duplication
    • Symposium review: Intramammary infections—Major pathogens and strain-associated complexity

      Keane, Orla M (Elsevier, 2019-03-01)
      Intramammary infection (IMI) is one of the most costly diseases to the dairy industry. It is primarily due to bacterial infection and the major intramammary pathogens include Escherichia coli, Streptococcus uberis, and Staphylococcus aureus. The severity and outcome of IMI is dependent on several host factors including innate host resistance, energy balance, immune status, parity, and stage of lactation. Additionally, the infecting organism can influence the host immune response and progression of disease. It is increasingly recognized that not only the infecting pathogen species, but also the strain, can affect the transmission, severity, and outcome of IMI. For each of 3 major IMI-associated pathogens, S. aureus, Strep. uberis, and E. coli, specific strains have been identified that are adapted to the intramammary environment. Strain-dependent variation in the host immune response to infection has also been reported. The diversity of strains associated with IMI must be considered if vaccines effective against the full repertoire of mammary pathogenic strains are to be developed. Although important advances have been made recently in understanding the molecular mechanism underpinning strain-specific virulence, further research is required to fully elucidate the cellular and molecular pathogenesis of mammary adapted strains and the role of the strain in influencing the pathophysiology of infection. Improved understanding of molecular pathogenesis of strains associated with bovine IMI will contribute to the development of new control strategies, therapies, and vaccines. The development of enabling technologies such as pathogenomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics can facilitate system-level studies of strain-specific molecular pathogenesis and the identification of key mediators of host-pathogen interactions.
    • Variation in the Ovine Abomasal Lymph Node Transcriptome between Breeds Known to Differ in Resistance to the Gastrointestinal Nematode

      Ahmed, Albin M.; Good, Barbara; Hanrahan, James P; McGettigan, Paul; Browne, John A; Keane, Orla M; Bahar, Bojlul; Mehta, Jai; Markey, Bryan; Lohan, Amanda; et al. (PLoS, 2015-05-15)
      Texel lambs are known to be more resistant to gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) infection than Suffolk lambs, with a greater ability to limit infection. The objectives of this study were to: 1) profile the whole transcriptome of abomasal lymph node tissue of GIN-free Texel and Suffolk lambs; 2) identify differentially expressed genes and characterize the immune-related biological pathways and networks associated with these genes. Abomasal lymph nodes were collected from Texel (n = 6) and Suffolk (n = 4) lambs aged 19 weeks that had been GIN-free since 6 weeks of age. Whole transcriptome profiling was performed using RNA-seq on the Illumina platform. At the time of conducting this study, a well annotated Ovine genome was not available and hence the sequence reads were aligned with the Bovine (UMD3.1) genome. Identification of differentially expressed genes was followed by pathway and network analysis. The Suffolk breed accounted for significantly more of the differentially expressed genes, (276 more highly expressed in Suffolk v 162 in Texel; P < 0.001). The four most significant differentially expressed pathways were all related to immunity and were classified as: Role of Pattern Recognition Receptors in Recognition of Bacteria and Viruses, Activation of IRF by Cytosolic Pattern Recognition Receptors, Role of RIG-I-like Receptors in Antiviral Innate Immunity, and Interferon Signaling. Of significance is the fact that all of these four pathways were more highly expressed in the Suffolk. These data suggest that in a GIN-free environment, Suffolk lambs have a more active immune profile relative to the Texel: this immune profile may contribute to the poorer efficiency of response to a GIN challenge in the Suffolk breed compared to the Texel breed.