• A catalogue of validated single nucleotide polymorphisms in bovine orthologs of mammalian imprinted genes and associations with beef production traits

      Magee, David A; Berkowicz, Erik W; Sikora, Klaudia M; Berry, Donagh; Park, Stephen D. E.; Kelly, Alan K; Sweeney, Torres; Kenny, David A.; Evans, R. D.; Wickham, Brian W.; et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2010-06)
      Genetic (or ‘genomic’) imprinting, a feature of approximately 100 mammalian genes, results in monoallelic expression from one of the two parentally inherited chromosomes. To date, most studies have been directed on imprinted genes in murine or human models; however, there is burgeoning interest in the effects of imprinted genes in domestic livestock species. In particular, attention has focused on imprinted genes that influence foetal growth and development and that are associated with several economically important production traits in cattle, sheep and pigs. We have re-sequenced regions in 20 candidate bovine imprinted genes in order to validate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that may influence important production traits in cattle. Putative SNPs detected via re-sequencing were subsequently re-formatted for high-throughput SNP genotyping in 185 cattle samples comprising 138 performance-tested European Bos taurus (all Limousin bulls), 29 African B. taurus and 18 Indian B. indicus samples. Analysis of the resulting genotypic data identified 117 validated SNPs. Preliminary genotype–phenotype association analyses using 83 SNPs that were polymorphic in the Limousin samples with minor allele frequencies >0.05 revealed significant associations between two candidate bovine imprinted genes and a range of important beef production traits: average daily gain, average feed intake, live weight, feed conversion ratio, residual feed intake and residual gain. These genes were the Ras proteinspecific guanine nucleotide releasing factor gene ( RASGRF1) and the zinc finger, imprinted 2 gene ( ZIM2). Despite the relatively small sample size used in these analyses, the observed associations with production traits are supported by the purported biological function of the RASGRF1 and ZIM2 gene products. These results support the hypothesis that imprinted genes contribute significantly to important complex production traits in cattle. Furthermore, these SNPs may be usefully incorporated into future marker-assisted and genomic selection breeding schemes.
    • 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.
    • Effect of dietary restriction and subsequent re-alimentation on the transcriptional profile of bovine ruminal epithelium

      Keogh, Kate; Waters, Sinead M.; Cormican, Paul; Kelly, Alan K; O'Shea, Emma; Kenny, David A.; Science Foundation Ireland; RFP/GEN2447 (PLOS, 2017-05-17)
      Compensatory growth (CG) is utilised worldwide in beef production systems as a management approach to reduce feed costs. However the underlying biology regulating the expression of CG remains to be fully elucidated. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of dietary restriction and subsequent re-alimentation induced CG on the global gene expression profile of ruminal epithelial papillae. Holstein Friesian bulls (n = 60) were assigned to one of two groups: restricted feed allowance (RES; n = 30) for 125 days (Period 1) followed by ad libitum access to feed for 55 days (Period 2) or (ii) ad libitum access to feed throughout (ADLIB; n = 30). At the end of each period, 15 animals from each treatment were slaughtered and rumen papillae harvested. mRNA was isolated from all papillae samples collected. cDNA libraries were then prepared and sequenced. Resultant reads were subsequently analysed bioinformatically and differentially expressed genes (DEGs) are defined as having a Benjamini-Hochberg P value of <0.05. During re-alimentation in Period 2, RES animals displayed CG, growing at 1.8 times the rate of their ADLIB contemporary animals in Period 2 (P < 0.001). At the end of Period 1, 64 DEGs were identified between RES and ADLIB, with only one DEG identified at the end of Period 2. When analysed within RES treatment (RES, Period 2 v Period 1), 411 DEGs were evident. Genes identified as differentially expressed in response to both dietary restriction and subsequent CG included those involved in processes such as cellular interactions and transport, protein folding and gene expression, as well as immune response. This study provides an insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying the expression of CG in rumen papillae of cattle; however the results suggest that the role of the ruminal epithelium in supporting overall animal CG may have declined by day 55 of re-alimentation.
    • Effect of Dietary Restriction and Subsequent Re-Alimentation on the Transcriptional Profile of Bovine Skeletal Muscle

      Keogh, Kate; Kenny, David A.; Cormican, Paul; McCabe, Matthew; Kelly, Alan K; Waters, Sinead M.; Science Foundation Ireland; 09/RFP/GEN/2447 (PLOS, 2016-02-12)
      Compensatory growth (CG), an accelerated growth phenomenon which occurs following a period of dietary restriction is exploited worldwide in animal production systems as a method to lower feed costs. However the molecular mechanisms regulated CG expression remain to be elucidated fully. This study aimed to uncover the underlying biology regulating CG in cattle, through an examination of skeletal muscle transcriptional profiles utilising next generation mRNA sequencing technology. Twenty Holstein Friesian bulls were fed either a restricted diet for 125 days, with a target growth rate of 0.6 kg/day (Period 1), following which they were allowed feed ad libitum for a further 55 days (Period 2) or fed ad libitum for the entirety of the trial. M. longissimus dorsi biopsies were harvested from all bulls on days 120 and 15 of periods 1 and 2 respectively and RNAseq analysis was performed. During realimentation in Period 2, previously restricted animals displayed CG, growing at 1.8 times the rate of the ad libitum control animals. Compensating animals were also more feed efficient during re-alimentation and compensated for 48% of their previous dietary restriction. 1,430 and 940 genes were identified as significantly differentially expressed (Benjamini Hochberg adjusted P < 0.1) in periods 1 and 2 respectively. Additionally, 2,237 genes were differentially expressed in animals undergoing CG relative to dietary restriction. Dietary restriction in Period 1 was associated with altered expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism and energy production. CG expression in Period 2 occurred in association with greater expression of genes involved in cellular function and organisation. This study highlights some of the molecular mechanisms regulating CG in cattle. Differentially expressed genes identified are potential candidate genes for the identification of biomarkers for CG and feed efficiency, which may be incorporated into future breeding programmes
    • Effect of dietary restriction and subsequent re-alimentation on the transcriptional profile of hepatic tissue in cattle

      Keogh, Kate; Kenny, David A.; Cormican, Paul; Kelly, Alan K; Waters, Sinead M.; Science Foundation Ireland; 09/RFP/GEN2447 (Biomed Central, 2016-03-17)
      Background Compensatory growth (CG) is an accelerated growth phenomenon observed in animals upon re-alimentation following a period of dietary restriction. It is typically utilised in livestock systems to reduce feed costs during periods of reduced feed availability. The biochemical mechanisms controlling this phenomenon, however, are yet to be elucidated. This study aimed to uncover the molecular mechanisms regulating the hepatic expression of CG in cattle, utilising RNAseq. RNAseq was performed on hepatic tissue of bulls following 125 days of dietary restriction (RES) and again following 55 days of subsequent re-alimentation during which the animals exhibited significant CG. The data were compared with those of control animals offered the same diet on an ad libitum basis throughout (ADLIB). Elucidation of the molecular control of CG may yield critical information on genes and pathways which could be targeted as putative molecular biomarkers for the selection of animals with improved CG potential. Results Following a period of differential feeding, body-weight and liver weight were 161 and 4 kg higher, respectively, for ADLIB compared with RES animals. At this time RNAseq analysis of liver tissue revealed 1352 significantly differentially expressed genes (DEG) between the two treatments. DEGs indicated down-regulation of processes including nutrient transport, cell division and proliferation in RES. In addition, protein synthesis genes were up-regulated in RES following a period of restricted feeding. The subsequent 55 days of ad libitum feeding for both groups resulted in the body-weight difference reduced to 84 kg, with no difference in liver weight between treatment groups. At the end of 55 days of unrestricted feeding, 49 genes were differentially expressed between animals undergoing CG and their continuously fed counterparts. In particular, hepatic expression of cell proliferation and growth genes were greater in animals undergoing CG. Conclusions Greater expression of cell cycle and cell proliferation genes during CG was associated with a 100 % recovery of liver weight during re-alimentation. Additionally, an apparent up-regulation in capacity for cellular protein synthesis during restricted feeding may contribute to and sustain CG during re-alimentation. DEGs identified are potential candidate genes for the identification of biomarkers for CG, which may be incorporated into future breeding programmes.
    • 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.
    • Examination of the molecular control of ruminal epithelial function in response to dietary restriction and subsequent compensatory growth in cattle

      O'Shea, Emma; Waters, Sinead M.; Keogh, Kate; Kelly, Alan K; Kenny, David A.; Science Foundation Ireland; 09/RFP/GEN2447 (2016-09-15)
      Background The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of dietary restriction and subsequent compensatory growth on the relative expression of genes involved in volatile fatty acid transport, metabolism and cell proliferation in ruminal epithelial tissue of beef cattle. Sixty Holstein Friesian bulls (mean liveweight 370 ± 35 kg; mean age 479 ± 15 d) were assigned to one of two groups: (i) restricted feed allowance (RES; n = 30) for 125 d (Period 1) followed by ad libitum access to feed for 55 d (Period 2) or (ii) ad libitum access to feed throughout (ADLIB; n = 30). Target growth rate for RES was 0.6 kg/d during Period 1. At the end of each dietary period, 15 animals from each treatment group were slaughtered and ruminal epithelial tissue and liquid digesta harvested from the ventral sac of the rumen. Real-time qPCR was used to quantify mRNA transcripts of 26 genes associated with ruminal epithelial function. Volatile fatty acid analysis of rumen fluid from individual animals was conducted using gas chromatography. Results Diet × period interactions were evident for genes involved in ketogenesis (BDH2, P = 0.017), pyruvate metabolism (LDHa, P = 0.048; PDHA1, P = 0.015) and cellular transport and structure (DSG1, P = 0.019; CACT, P = 0.027). Ruminal concentrations of propionic acid (P = 0.018) and n-valeric acid (P = 0.029) were lower in RES animals, compared with ADLIB, throughout the experiment. There was also a strong tendency (P = 0.064) toward a diet × period interaction for n-butyric with higher concentrations in RES animals, compared with ADLIB, during Period 1. Conclusions These data suggest that following nutrient restriction, the structural integrity of the rumen wall is compromised and there is upregulation of genes involved in the production of ketone bodies and breakdown of pyruvate for cellular energy. These results provide an insight into the potential molecular mechanisms regulating ruminal epithelial absorptive metabolism and growth following nutrient restriction and subsequent compensatory growth.
    • 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.
    • Plane of nutrition affects the phylogenetic diversity and relative abundance of transcriptionally active methanogens in the bovine rumen

      McGovern, Emily; McCabe, Matthew; Cormican, Paul; Popova, Milka; Keogh, Kate; Kelly, Alan K; Kenny, David A.; Waters, Sinead M. (Springer Nature, 2017-10-12)
      Methane generated during enteric fermentation in ruminant livestock species is a major contributor to global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. A period of moderate feed restriction followed by ad libitum access to feed is widely applied in cattle management to exploit the animal’s compensatory growth potential and reduce feed costs. In the present study, we utilised microbial RNA from rumen digesta samples to assess the phylogenetic diversity of transcriptionally active methanogens from feed-restricted and non-restricted animals. To determine the contribution of different rumen methanogens to methanogenesis during dietary restriction of cattle, we conducted high-throughput mcrA cDNA amplicon sequencing on an Illumina MiSeq and analysed both the abundance and phylogenetic origin of different mcrA cDNA sequences. When compared to their unrestricted contemporaries, in feed-restricted animals, the methanogenic activity, based on mcrA transcript abundance, of Methanobrevibacter gottschalkii clade increased while the methanogenic activity of the Methanobrevibacter ruminantium clade and members of the Methanomassiliicoccaceae family decreased. This study shows that the quantity of feed consumed can evoke large effects on the composition of methanogenically active species in the rumen of cattle. These data potentially have major implications for targeted CH4 mitigation approaches such as anti-methanogen vaccines and/or tailored dietary management.
    • Quantitative analysis of ruminal methanogenic microbial populations in beef cattle divergent in phenotypic residual feed intake (RFI) offered contrasting diets

      Carberry, Ciara A; Kenny, David A.; Kelly, Alan K; Waters, Sinead M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 05 224 (Biomed Central, 2014-08-22)
      Background Methane (CH4) emissions in cattle are an undesirable end product of rumen methanogenic fermentative activity as they are associated not only with negative environmental impacts but also with reduced host feed efficiency. The aim of this study was to quantify total and specific rumen microbial methanogenic populations in beef cattle divergently selected for residual feed intake (RFI) while offered (i) a low energy high forage (HF) diet followed by (ii) a high energy low forage (LF) diet. Ruminal fluid was collected from 14 high (H) and 14 low (L) RFI animals across both dietary periods. Quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis was conducted to quantify the abundance of total and specific rumen methanogenic microbes. Spearman correlation analysis was used to investigate the association between the relative abundance of methanogens and animal performance, rumen fermentation variables and diet digestibility. Results Abundance of methanogens, did not differ between RFI phenotypes. However, relative abundance of total and specific methanogen species was affected (P < 0.05) by diet type, with greater abundance observed while animals were offered the LF compared to the HF diet. Conclusions These findings suggest that differences in abundance of specific rumen methanogen species may not contribute to variation in CH4 emissions between efficient and inefficient animals, however dietary manipulation can influence the abundance of total and specific methanogen species.
    • Stress and immunological response of heifers divergently ranked for residual feed intake following an adrenocorticotropic hormone challenge

      Kelly, Alan K; Lawrence, P.; Earley, Bernadette; Kenny, David A.; McGee, Mark (Biomed Central, 2017-08-08)
      Background When an animal is exposed to a stressor, metabolic rate, energy consumption and utilisation increase primarily through activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Changes to partitioning of energy by an animal are likely to influence the efficiency with which it is utilised. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the physiological stress response to an exogenous adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) challenge in beef heifers divergently ranked on phenotypic residual feed intake (RFI). Results Data were collected on 34 Simmental weaning beef heifers the progeny of a well characterized and divergently bred RFI suckler beef herd. Residual feed intake was determined on each animal during the post-weaning stage over a 91-day feed intake measurement period during which they were individually offered adlibitum grass silage and 2 kg of concentrate per head once daily. The 12 highest [0.34 kg DM/d] and 12 lowest [−0.48 kg DM/d] ranking animals on RFI were selected for use in this study. For the physiological stress challenge heifers (mean age 605 ± 13 d; mean BW 518 ± 31.4 kg) were fitted aseptically with indwelling jugular catheters to facilitate intensive blood collection. The response of the adrenal cortex to a standardised dose of ACTH (1.98 IU/kg metabolic BW0.75) was examined. Serial blood samples were analysed for plasma cortisol, ACTH and haematology variables. Heifers differing in RFI did not differ (P = 0.59) in ACTH concentrations. Concentration of ACTH peaked (P < 0.001) in both RFI groups at 20 min post-ACTH administration, following which concentration declined to baseline levels by 150 min. Similarly, cortisol systemic profile peaked at 60 min and concentrations remained continuously elevated for 150 min. A RFI × time interaction was detected for cortisol concentrations (P = 0.06) with high RFI heifers had a greater cortisol response than Low RFI from 40 min to 150 min relative to ACTH administration. Cortisol response was positively associated with RFI status (r = 0.32; P < 0.01). No effect of RFI was evident for neutrophil, lymphocytes, monocyte, eosinophils and basophil count. Plasma red blood cell number (6.07 vs. 6.23; P = 0.02) and hematocrit percentage (23.2 vs. 24.5; P = 0.02) were greater for low than high RFI animals. Conclusions Evidence is provided that feed efficiency is associated with HPA axis function and susceptibility to stress, and responsiveness of the HPA axis is likely to contribute to appreciable variation in the efficiency feed utilisation of cattle.