• Schmallenberg virus: a systematic international literature review (2011-2019) from an Irish perspective

      Collins, Áine B; Doherty, Michael L; Barrett, Damien J; Mee, John F; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2019-10-09)
      In Autumn 2011, nonspecific clinical signs of pyrexia, diarrhoea, and drop in milk yield were observed in dairy cattle near the German town of Schmallenberg at the Dutch/German border. Targeted veterinary diagnostic investigations for classical endemic and emerging viruses could not identify a causal agent. Blood samples were collected from animals with clinical signs and subjected to metagenomic analysis; a novel orthobunyavirus was identified and named Schmallenberg virus (SBV). In late 2011/early 2012, an epidemic of abortions and congenital malformations in calves, lambs and goat kids, characterised by arthrogryposis and hydranencephaly were reported in continental Europe. Subsequently, SBV RNA was confirmed in both aborted and congenitally malformed foetuses and also in Culicoides species biting midges. It soon became evident that SBV was an arthropod-borne teratogenic virus affecting domestic ruminants. SBV rapidly achieved a pan-European distribution with most countries confirming SBV infection within a year or two of the initial emergence. The first Irish case of SBV was confirmed in the south of the country in late 2012 in a bovine foetus. Since SBV was first identified in 2011, a considerable body of scientific research has been conducted internationally describing this novel emerging virus. The aim of this systematic review is to provide a comprehensive synopsis of the most up-to-date scientific literature regarding the origin of SBV and the spread of the Schmallenberg epidemic, in addition to describing the species affected, clinical signs, pathogenesis, transmission, risk factors, impact, diagnostics, surveillance methods and control measures. This review also highlights current knowledge gaps in the scientific literature regarding SBV, most notably the requirement for further research to determine if, and to what extent, SBV circulation occurred in Europe and internationally during 2017 and 2018. Moreover, recommendations are also made regarding future arbovirus surveillance in Europe, specifically the establishment of a European-wide sentinel herd surveillance program, which incorporates bovine serology and Culicoides entomology and virology studies, at national and international level to monitor for the emergence and re-emergence of arboviruses such as SBV, bluetongue virus and other novel Culicoides-borne arboviruses.
    • Semi-supervised linear discriminant analysis

      Toher, Deirdre; Downey, Gerard; Murphy, Thomas Brendan; Science Foundation Ireland; Teagasc (Wiley, 02/07/2012)
      Fisher's linear discriminant analysis is one of the most commonly used and studied classification methods in chemometrics. The method finds a projection of multivariate data into a lower dimensional space so that the groups in the data are well separated. The resulting projected values are subsequently used to classify unlabeled observations into the groups. A semi-supervised version of Fisher's linear discriminant analysis is developed, so that the unlabeled observations are also used in the model fitting procedure. This approach is advantageous when few labeled and many unlabeled observations are available. The semi-supervised linear discriminant analysis method is demonstrated on a number of data sets where it is shown to yield better separation of the groups and improved classification over Fisher's linear discriminant analysis.
    • Short-term consumption of a high-fat diet increases host susceptibility to Listeria monocytogenes infection

      Heras, Vanessa L; Clooney, Adam G; Ryan, Feargal J; Cabrera-Rubio, Raul; Casey, Patrick G.; Hueston, Cara M; Pinheiro, Jorge; Rudkin, Justine K; Melgar, Silvia; Cotter, Paul D.; et al. (Biomed Central, 2019-01-18)
      Background A westernized diet comprising a high caloric intake from animal fats is known to influence the development of pathological inflammatory conditions. However, there has been relatively little focus upon the implications of such diets for the progression of infectious disease. Here, we investigated the influence of a high-fat (HF) diet upon parameters that influence Listeria monocytogenes infection in mice. Results We determined that short-term administration of a HF diet increases the number of goblet cells, a known binding site for the pathogen, in the gut and also induces profound changes to the microbiota and promotes a pro-inflammatory gene expression profile in the host. Host physiological changes were concordant with significantly increased susceptibility to oral L. monocytogenes infection in mice fed a HF diet relative to low fat (LF)- or chow-fed animals. Prior to Listeria infection, short-term consumption of HF diet elevated levels of Firmicutes including Coprococcus, Butyricicoccus, Turicibacter and Clostridium XIVa species. During active infection with L. monocytogenes, microbiota changes were further exaggerated but host inflammatory responses were significantly downregulated relative to Listeria-infected LF- or chow-fed groups, suggestive of a profound tempering of the host response influenced by infection in the context of a HF diet. The effects of diet were seen beyond the gut, as a HF diet also increased the sensitivity of mice to systemic infection and altered gene expression profiles in the liver. Conclusions We adopted a systems approach to identify the effects of HF diet upon L. monocytogenes infection through analysis of host responses and microbiota changes (both pre- and post-infection). Overall, the results indicate that short-term consumption of a westernized diet has the capacity to significantly alter host susceptibility to L. monocytogenes infection concomitant with changes to the host physiological landscape. The findings suggest that diet should be a consideration when developing models that reflect human infectious disease.
    • SNP variation in the promoter of the PRKAG3 gene and association with meat quality traits in pig

      Ryan, Marion T; Hamill, Ruth M; O'Halloran, Aisling M; Davey, Grace C; McBryan, Jean; Mullen, Anne Maria; McGee, Chris; Gispert, Marina; Southwood, Olwen I; Sweeney, Torres; et al. (Biomed Central, 25/07/2012)
      Background: The PRKAG3 gene encodes the γ3 subunit of adenosine monophosphate activated protein kinase (AMPK), a protein that plays a key role in energy metabolism in skeletal muscle. Non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in this gene such as I199V are associated with important pork quality traits. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between gene expression of the PRKAG3 gene, SNP variation in the PRKAG3 promoter and meat quality phenotypes in pork. Results: PRKAG3 gene expression was found to correlate with a number of traits relating to glycolytic potential (GP) and intramuscular fat (IMF) in three phenotypically diverse F1 crosses comprising of 31 Large White, 23 Duroc and 32 Pietrain sire breeds. The majority of associations were observed in the Large White cross. There was a significant association between genotype at the g.-311A>G locus and PRKAG3 gene expression in the Large White cross. In the same population, ten novel SNPs were identified within a 1.3 kb region spanning the promoter and from this three major haplotypes were inferred. Two tagging SNPs (g.-995A>G and g.-311A>G) characterised the haplotypes within the promoter region being studied. These two SNPs were subsequently genotyped in larger populations consisting of Large White (n = 98), Duroc (n = 99) and Pietrain (n = 98) purebreds. Four major haplotypes including promoter SNP’s g.-995A>G and g.-311A>G and I199V were inferred. In the Large White breed, HAP1 was associated with IMF% in the M. longissmus thoracis et lumborum (LTL) and driploss%. HAP2 was associated with IMFL% GP-influenced traits pH at 24 hr in LTL (pHULT), pH at 45 min in LTL (pH45LT) and pH at 45 min in the M. semimembranosus muscle (pH45SM). HAP3 was associated with driploss%, pHULT pH45LT and b* Minolta. In the Duroc breed, associations were observed between HAP1 and driploss% and pHUSM. No associations were observed with the remaining haplotypes (HAP2, HAP3 and HAP4) in the Duroc breed. The Pietrain breed was monomorphic in the promoter region. The I199V locus was associated with several GP-influenced traits across all three breeds and IMF% in the Large White and Pietrain breed. No significant difference in promoter function was observed for the three main promoter haplotypes when tested in vitro. Conclusion: Gene expression levels of the porcine PRKAG3 are associated with meat quality phenotypes relating to glycolytic potential and IMF% in the Large White breed, while SNP variation in the promoter region of the gene is associated with PRKAG3 gene expression and meat quality phenotypes.
    • Snpdat: Easy and rapid annotation of results from de novo snp discovery projects for model and non-model organisms

      Doran, Anthony G; Creevey, Christopher J. (Biomed Central, 2013-02-08)
      Background: Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are the most abundant genetic variant found in vertebrates and invertebrates. SNP discovery has become a highly automated, robust and relatively inexpensive process allowing the identification of many thousands of mutations for model and non-model organisms. Annotating large numbers of SNPs can be a difficult and complex process. Many tools available are optimised for use with organisms densely sampled for SNPs, such as humans. There are currently few tools available that are species non-specific or support non-model organism data. Results: Here we present SNPdat, a high throughput analysis tool that can provide a comprehensive annotation of both novel and known SNPs for any organism with a draft sequence and annotation. Using a dataset of 4,566 SNPs identified in cattle using high-throughput DNA sequencing we demonstrate the annotations performed and the statistics that can be generated by SNPdat. Conclusions: SNPdat provides users with a simple tool for annotation of genomes that are either not supported by other tools or have a small number of annotated SNPs available. SNPdat can also be used to analyse datasets from organisms which are densely sampled for SNPs. As a command line tool it can easily be incorporated into existing SNP discovery pipelines and fills a niche for analyses involving non-model organisms that are not supported by many available SNP annotation tools. SNPdat will be of great interest to scientists involved in SNP discovery and analysis projects, particularly those with limited bioinformatics experience.
    • Spatial patterns of Fasciola hepatica and Calicophoron daubneyi infections in ruminants in Ireland and modelling of C. daubneyi infection

      Naranjo-Lucena, Amalia; Munita, Maria P; Martinez-Ibeas, Ana M; McGrath, Guy; Murray, Gerard; Casey, Micheal; Good, Barbara; Sayers, Riona; Mulcahy, Grace; Zintl, Annetta; et al. (Biomed Central, 2018-09-29)
      Background Fasciola hepatica has always represented a threat to Irish livestock because the Irish climate is highly suitable for the main local intermediate host of the parasite, the snail Galba truncatula. The recent clinical emergence of infections due to Calicophoron daubneyi has raised the question of whether the two parasites, which share a niche during part of their life-cycles, interact in some way. Here, we used geographical information systems (GIS) to analyse the distribution of both parasites in cattle and sheep. We also developed the first predictive model of paramphistomosis in Ireland. Results Our results indicated that, in cattle, liver fluke infection is less common than rumen fluke infection and does not exhibit the same seasonal fluctuations. Overall, we found that cattle had a higher likelihood of being infected with rumen fluke than sheep (OR = 3.134, P < 0.01). In addition, infection with one parasite increased the odds of infection with the other in both host species. Rumen fluke in cattle showed the highest spatial density of infection. Environmental variables such as soil drainage, land cover and habitat appeared to be the most important risk factors for C. daubneyi infection, followed by rainfall and vegetation. Overall the risk of infection with this parasite was predicted to be higher in the west of the country. Conclusions This study shows differences between the infection rates and spatial patterns of bovine and ovine infections with F. hepatica and C. daubneyi in Ireland. Whether the reasons for this are due to susceptibility, exposure and/or management factors is yet to be determined. Furthermore, the rumen fluke model indicates distinct risk factors and predicted distribution to those of F. hepatica, suggesting potential biological differences between both parasite species.
    • Species classifier choice is a key consideration when analysing low-complexity food microbiome data

      Walsh, Aaron M.; Crispie, Fiona; O'Sullivan, Orla; Finnegan, Laura; Claesson, Marcus J.; Cotter, Paul D.; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273; 11/PI/1137; 13/SIRG/2160 (Biomed Central, 2018-03-20)
      Background The use of shotgun metagenomics to analyse low-complexity microbial communities in foods has the potential to be of considerable fundamental and applied value. However, there is currently no consensus with respect to choice of species classification tool, platform, or sequencing depth. Here, we benchmarked the performances of three high-throughput short-read sequencing platforms, the Illumina MiSeq, NextSeq 500, and Ion Proton, for shotgun metagenomics of food microbiota. Briefly, we sequenced six kefir DNA samples and a mock community DNA sample, the latter constructed by evenly mixing genomic DNA from 13 food-related bacterial species. A variety of bioinformatic tools were used to analyse the data generated, and the effects of sequencing depth on these analyses were tested by randomly subsampling reads. Results Compositional analysis results were consistent between the platforms at divergent sequencing depths. However, we observed pronounced differences in the predictions from species classification tools. Indeed, PERMANOVA indicated that there was no significant differences between the compositional results generated by the different sequencers (p = 0.693, R2 = 0.011), but there was a significant difference between the results predicted by the species classifiers (p = 0.01, R2 = 0.127). The relative abundances predicted by the classifiers, apart from MetaPhlAn2, were apparently biased by reference genome sizes. Additionally, we observed varying false-positive rates among the classifiers. MetaPhlAn2 had the lowest false-positive rate, whereas SLIMM had the greatest false-positive rate. Strain-level analysis results were also similar across platforms. Each platform correctly identified the strains present in the mock community, but accuracy was improved slightly with greater sequencing depth. Notably, PanPhlAn detected the dominant strains in each kefir sample above 500,000 reads per sample. Again, the outputs from functional profiling analysis using SUPER-FOCUS were generally accordant between the platforms at different sequencing depths. Finally, and expectedly, metagenome assembly completeness was significantly lower on the MiSeq than either on the NextSeq (p = 0.03) or the Proton (p = 0.011), and it improved with increased sequencing depth. Conclusions Our results demonstrate a remarkable similarity in the results generated by the three sequencing platforms at different sequencing depths, and, in fact, the choice of bioinformatics methodology had a more evident impact on results than the choice of sequencer did.
    • Stakeholder perspectives on the use of pig meat inspection as a health and welfare diagnostic tool in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; a SWOT analysis

      Devitt, Catherine; Boyle, Laura; Teixeira, Dayane L.; O'Connell, Niamh E.; Hawe, M.; Hanlon, A.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 11/S/107 (Biomed Central, 2016-11-07)
      Background A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis is a strategic management tool applied to policy planning and decision-making. This short report presents the results of a SWOT analysis, carried out with n = 16 stakeholders i) involved in the pig industry in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and ii) in general animal welfare and food safety policy areas. As part of a larger study called PIGWELFIND, the analysis sought to explore the potential development of pig meat inspection as an animal welfare and diagnostic tool. Findings The final SWOT framework comprised two strengths, three opportunities, six weaknesses, and five threats. Issues around relationships and communication between producers and their veterinary practitioner, processors and producers were common to both the strengths and weakness clusters. Practical challenges within the processing plant were also named. Overall, the SWOT framework complements results reported in Devitt et al. (Ir Vet J 69:2, 2016) regarding problematic issues within the current system of information feedback on meat inspection especially within the Republic of Ireland, and the wider challenges of communication and problems of distrust. Conclusion The results of the SWOT analysis support the conclusions from Devitt et al. (Ir Vet J 69:2, 2016), that trust between all stakeholders across the supply chain will be essential for the development of an effective environment in which to realise the full diagnostic potential of MI data. Further stakeholder engagement could seek to apply the findings of the SWOT analysis to a policy Delphi methodology, as used elsewhere.
    • 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.
    • A Study of Communication Methods for Teagasc to Engage with Agricultural College Graduates from Graduation to Farm Ownership

      Kelly, John W. (2015-10)
      The overall aim of this study was to successfully develop a useful method for Teagasc advisors to engage and keep in contact with agricultural college graduates. Graduates from Ballyhaise Agricultural College were surveyed in order to identify if they wanted future contact with Teagasc and if so what methods they would like to use. In addition existing contact between students and a Teagasc advisor was evaluated. A number of international extension and education organisations were contacted to investigate if they were using any methods to retain contact with their graduates. The early phase of the study formulated ideas for the development of a number of innovative methods for Teagasc to retain contact with graduates; these included the use of the social media website Facebook, publication of an agricultural college newsletter and SMS text alert services to graduates. The key findings from the study were that graduates want to keep in contact with Teagasc and due to the good experience they had in agricultural college they would like to receive regular information and participate in Teagasc discussion groups. They also would like to have regular contact with an advisor while in college. Existing students found the introduction to an advisor via a farm walk and guest lecture to be very beneficial. Social media was found to be the most engaging and interactive method of contact with graduates. The Ballyhaise Agricultural College newsletter was found to be an excellent source of technical information and SMS text messaging was the most effective method of communicating short messages. The study recommends that Teagasc implement these methods on a national basis across its agricultural colleges and local advisory offices
    • A Study of the Effectiveness of Risk Assessment and Extension Supports for Irish Farmers to Improve Farm Safety and Health Management

      McNamara, John G. (2014)
      The agricultural sector workforce in Ireland and Internationally has a poor occupational safety and health (OSH) record. Given this situation, identifying approaches to improve OSH adoption on farms are urgently required, yet limited research has been conducted on this topic. In Ireland, legislation introduced in 2005 permitted the development of a Code of Practice (COP) in association with a Risk Assessment Document (RAD) for specific sectors to assist owners of small-scale enterprises and the self-employed to manage OSH. Two state agencies, the Health and Safety Authority and Teagasc – Agriculture and Food Development Authority, formed an alliance to undertake a Prevention Initiative to develop the COP and RAD for the agriculture sector and to assist farmers to use these documents to manage farm OSH and to assess the utility of the approach adopted. The Prevention Initiative firstly developed the RAD on a pilot basis and assessed its value in assisting farmers with OSH management in association with provision of short halfday training and follow-up extension. This was followed by circulation of COP documents, including the RAD, to farmers nationally and making available half-day training based on the RAD and associated OSH extension. A mixed-method research approach was implemented to assess the RAD utility and effectiveness while triangulation of data from different sources was undertaken to maximise the knowledge gained. Questionnaires were used among farmer participants (n=1,206) and Teagasc staff (n=54), who facilitated the training, to gain opinions of the RAD and of the training provided. RAD’s were assembled (n=475) and assessed for their completion levels and nature of controls specified for action by farmers. Farm audits were undertaken (n=94) to assess implementation of farm OSH controls in association with RAD use. A nationally representative survey of farmers (n=891) was used to establish levels of COP and RAD usage and farm accident levels. Farmers reported having a positive attitude to farm OSH. They rated the RAD developed on a pilot basis as the most helpful to them in assisting with OSH management when compared with other legal documents developed in Ireland for this purpose. Farmers perceptions of the causes of serious accidents were found to be at variance with objective data and it was concluded that use of the RAD was an effective means of accurate communications. The COP and RAD documents were used to a limited extent among the farming population and it was concluded that greater utility of these documents requires further support through training. Participation in training on RAD completion in the project pilot phase was motivated by farmers’ desire to improve farm OSH and to gain assistance in completing the legally required documents. Among training approaches used, participants rated using accident victim testimonials and visual approaches to show OSH controls most useful while the provision of information on farmers’ health and level of discussion during training as least useful. Most participants were willing to engage in further OSH farm-based extension including participation in further training and attending farm demonstrations. Following RAD completion, most farmers (78%) planned to make OSH changes for which farm resources were mainly available, but just over half (55%) implemented the changes they planned and these were identified as having a prior record of OSH adoption. Farmers identified a limited number of controls in the RAD for action and those who attended training specified a higher level , while controls specified were mainly physical in nature such as machinery and farm facilities improvement. RAD facilitators were satisfied with the content and structure of farmer RAD training and the majority (80%) were also satisfied with the training they received to provide RAD farmer training while those dissatisfied mainly felt that the training provided was too short. Advisors who facilitated RAD training when compared to those not allocated this role, subsequently reported providing higher levels of OSH advice. Farmers’ completion of the RAD with or without training (half-day) was not associated with reduced farm accident levels. Farm accident level was associated with farms where the farmer and spouse had off farm work, which were comparatively larger in scale. Being a Teagasc client or having received agricultural education was not associated with reduced farm accident levels. Overall the study indicates that farmers’ knowledge is not the limiting factor to OSH implementation as use of the RAD and training did not lead to OSH change among prior non-adopters. The study recommends further assessment of extension approaches which can motivate OSH adoption such as use of farmer discussion groups which have been shown to improve farm management and technology adoption.
    • Supports for Farmers

      Teagasc, Head Office; Citizens Information Board, Head Office (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018)
      The objective of this publication is to provide up-to-date information to help improve the situation of farmers in rural Ireland. It is intended to provide up-to-date information to help improve the situation of farmers and people involved in providing services to the farming community and is based on our understanding of current regulation and practice. The information in this guide is intended as a general guide only and is not a legal interpretation.
    • A temporal assessment of nematode community structure and diversity in the rhizosphere of cisgenic Phytophthora infestans-resistant potatoes

      Ortiz, Vilma; Phelan, Sinead; Mullins, Ewen; European Union; KBBE.2011.3.5-01 (Biomed Central, 01/12/2016)
      Background Nematodes play a key role in soil processes with alterations in the nematode community structure having the potential to considerably influence ecosystem functioning. As a result fluctuations in nematode diversity and/or community structure can be gauged as a ‘barometer’ of a soil’s functional biodiversity. However, a deficit exists in regards to baseline knowledge and on the impact of specific GM crops on soil nematode populations and in particular in regard to the impact of GM potatoes on the diversity of nematode populations in the rhizosphere. The goal of this project was to begin to address this knowledge gap in regards to a GM potato line, cisgenically engineered for resistance to Phytophthora infestans (responsible organism of the Irish potato famine causing late blight disease). For this, a 3 year (2013, 2014, 2015) field experimental study was completed, containing two conventional genotypes (cvs. Desiree and Sarpo Mira) and a cisgenic genotype (cv. Desiree + Rpi-vnt1). Each potato genotype was treated with different disease management strategies (weekly chemical applications and corresponding no spray control). Hence affording the opportunity to investigate the temporal impact of potato genotype, disease management strategy (and their interaction) on the potato rhizosphere nematode community. Results Nematode structure and diversity were measured through established indices, accounts and taxonomy with factors recording a significant effect limited to the climatic conditions across the three seasons of the study and chemical applications associated with the selected disease management strategy. Based on the metrics studied, the cultivation of the cisgenic potato genotype exerted no significant effect (P > 0.05) on nematode community diversity or structure. The disease management treatments led to a reduction of specific trophic groups (e.g. Predacious c–p = 4), which of interest appeared to be counteracted by a potato genotype with vigorous growth phenotype e.g. cv. Sarpo Mira. The fluctuating climates led to disparate conditions, with enrichment conditions (bacterial feeding c–p = 1) dominating during the wet seasons of 2014 and 2015 versus the dry season of 2013 which induced an environmental stress (functional guild c–p = 2) on nematode communities. Conclusions Overall the functional guild indices in comparison to other indices or absolutes values, delivered the most accurate quantitative measurement with which to determine the occurrence of a specific disturbance relative to the cultivation of the studied cisgenic P. infestans-resistant potatoes.
    • Temporal patterns of inflammatory gene expression in local tissues after banding or burdizzo castration in cattle

      Pang, Wanyong; Earley, Bernadette; Sweeney, Torres; Gath, Vivian; Crowe, Mark A (Biomed Central, 2009-09-23)
      Background: Castration of male cattle has been shown to elicit inflammatory reactions and acute inflammation is initiated and sustained by the participation of cytokines. Methods: Sixty continental × beef bulls (Mean age 12 ± (s.e.) 0.2 months; Mean weight 341 ± (s.e.) 3.0 kg) were blocked by weight and randomly assigned to one of three treatments (n = 20 animals per treatment): 1) untreated control (Con); 2) banding castration at 0 min (Band); 3) Burdizzo castration at 0 min (Burd). Samples of the testis, epididymis and scrotal skin were collected surgically from 5 animals from each group at 12 h, 24 h, 7 d, and 14 d post-treatment, and analysed using real-time PCR. A repeated measurement analysis (Proc GLM) was performed using SAS. If there was no treatment and time interaction, main effects of treatment by time were tested by ANOVA. Results: Electrophoresis data showed that by 7 d post-castration RNA isolated from all the testicle samples of the Burd castrated animals, the epididymis and middle scrotum samples from Band castrates were degraded. Transitory effects were observed in the gene expression of IFN-γ, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-α at 12 h and 24 h post treatment. Burd castrates had greater (P < 0.05) testicular IFN-γ mRNA levels compared with Band and Con animals, but lower (P < 0.05) testicular TNF-α mRNA levels compared with Con animals. Band castrates had greater (P < 0.05) testicular IL-6 mRNA levels than Burd castrates at 12 h post-castration. Burd castrates had greater (P < 0.05) testicular IL-8 mRNA levels than Band and Con animals at 24 h post-castration. In the epididymis, Burd castrates had greater (P < 0.05) IL-6 mRNA (both at 12 h and 24 h post treatment) and IL-8 mRNA (12 h post treatment) levels compared with Band and Con animals; Burd castrates had greater (P = 0.049) IL-10 mRNA levels than Band castrates at 12 h post-castration. Conclusion: Banding castration caused more inflammatory associated gene expression changes to the epididymis and scrotum than burdizzo. Burdizzo caused more severe acute inflammatory responses, in terms of pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression, in the testis and epididymis than banding.
    • Temporal trends in reproductive performance in Irish dairy herds and associated risk factors

      Mee, John F (Biomed Central, 2004-03-01)
      Irish dairy herd fertility has been declining since the 1980s. The extent, nature and causes of this decline in fertility and the current status of Irish dairy herd fertility were described. An increase in calving interval of approximately one day per year has been recorded. The principal components of this trend have been an increased incidence of postpartum endocrinopathies, reduced expression of oestrus and a fall in conception rate. Both submission rate and calving-to-service interval have increased slightly over time. Significant risk factors associated with these trends have been strain substitution within the Holstein-Friesian breed and single trait selection for milk production. Critically, these changes have been reflected in loss of body condition. Contributory factors included increased herd size and possibly increased use of DIYAI. The most recent Irish study showed that 48% of cows conceived to first service and 14% of cows were not pregnant at the end of the industry-average 15-week spring breeding season. However, the top quartile of herds achieved a first-service conception rate of 59%, illustrating the wide variation between herds. These phenotypic trends were attributed to both genetic and environmental factors and their interactions. Recent Irish dairy herd fertility performance falls short of the targets set for seasonal compact calving.
    • The significance of the differences in soil phosphorus representation and transport procedures in the SWAT and HSPF models and a comparison of their performance in estimating phosphorus loss from an agriculture catchment in Ireland

      Nasr, Ahmed Elssidig; Bruen, Michael; Moles, Richard; Byrne, Paul; O'Regan, Bernadette (TWRI, 02/07/2012)
      Phosphorus transported from agriculture land has been identified as a major source of water pollution in a large number of Irish catchments. Models of this process are required in order to design and assess management measures. This paper reports on the comparison and assessment of two of the most promising physically-based distributed models, SWAT and HSPF, with particular emphasis on their suitability for Irish conditions. The representation of the overall soil phosphorus cycle is similar in both models but there is a significant difference in the level of detail in describing the chemical and biochemical processes in each model. Also there are differences in modeling the mechanisms by which phosphorus is removed from the soil column and either transported in dissolved form with the runoff water or in particulate form attached to eroded or detached sediment. These differences could have a significant influence on performance when using either of the models to simulate phosphorus loss from any catchment. Both models are applied to estimating the phosphorus concentration at the outlet of the Clarianna catchment in north Tiperrary (Ireland). This catchment is small (23km2) and the landuse is mainly pasture on grey brown podozilic soils. The results of model calibration are presented along with an assessment of the usefulness of the model outputs as a water quality management tool.
    • Transcriptome analysis of porcine M. semimembranosus divergent in intramuscular fat as a consequence of dietary protein restriction

      Hamill, Ruth M; Aslan, Ozlem; Mullen, Anne Maria; O'Doherty, John V.; McBryan, Jean; Morris, Dermot G.; Sweeney, Torres; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Biomed Central, 06/07/2013)
      Background: Intramuscular fat (IMF) content is positively correlated with aspects of pork palatability, including flavour, juiciness and overall acceptability. The ratio of energy to protein in the finishing diet of growing pigs can impact on IMF content with consequences for pork quality. The objective of this study was to compare gene expression profiles of Musculus semimembranosus (SM) of animals divergent for IMF as a consequence of protein dietary restriction in an isocaloric diet. The animal model was derived through the imposition of low or high protein diets during the finisher stage in Duroc gilts. RNA was extracted from post mortem SM tissue, processed and hybridised to Affymetrix porcine GeneChip® arrays. Results: IMF content of SM muscle was increased on the low protein diet (3.60 ± 0.38% versus 1.92 ± 0.35%). Backfat depth was also greater in animals on the low protein diet, and average daily gain and feed conversion ratio were lower, but muscle depth, protein content and moisture content were not affected. A total of 542 annotated genes were differentially expressed (DE) between animals on low and high protein diets, with 351 down-regulated and 191 up-regulated on the low protein diet. Transcript differences were validated for a subset of DE genes by qPCR. Alterations in functions related to cell cycle, muscle growth, extracellular matrix organisation, collagen development, lipogenesis and lipolysis, were observed. Expression of adipokines including LEP, TNFα and HIF1α were increased and the hypoxic stress response was induced. Many of the identified transcriptomic responses have also been observed in genetic and fetal programming models of differential IMF accumulation, indicating they may be robust biological indicators of IMF content. Conclusion: An extensive perturbation of overall energy metabolism in muscle occurs in response to protein restriction. A low protein diet can modulate IMF content of the SM by altering gene pathways involved in lipid biosynthesis and degradation; however this nutritional challenge negatively impacts protein synthesis pathways, with potential consequences for growth.
    • Transcriptome sequencing of Festulolium accessions under salt stress

      Teshome, A.; Byrne, Stephen L.; Didion, T.; De Vega, J.; Jensen, C. S; Klaas, M.; Barth, Susanne; European Union; Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions; FP7-KBBE-2011-5-289461; et al. (Biomed Central, 2019-05-31)
      Objectives The objective of this study was to establish transcriptome assemblies of Festulolium hybrids under salt stress, and identify genes regulated across the hybrids in response to salt stress. The development of transcriptome assemblies for Festulolium hybrids and cataloguing of genes regulated under salt stress will facilitate further downstream studies. Results Plants were grown at three salt concentrations (0.5%, 1% and 1.5%) and phenotypic and transcriptomic data was collected. Salt stress was confirmed by progressive loss of green leaves as salt concentration increased from 0 to 1.5%. We generated de-novo transcriptome assemblies for two Festulolium pabulare festucoid genotypes, for a single Festulolium braunii genotype, and a single F. pabulare loloid genotype. We also identified 1555 transcripts that were up regulated and 1264 transcripts that were down regulated in response to salt stress in the Festulolium hybrids. Some of the identified transcripts showed significant sequence similarity with genes known to be regulated during salt and other abiotic stresses.
    • Transcriptomic analysis of the stress response to weaning at housing in bovine leukocytes using RNA-seq technology

      O'Loughlin, Aran; Lynn, David J; McGee, Mark; Doyle, Sean; McCabe, Matthew; Earley, Bernadette; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2012-06-18)
      Background: Weaning of beef calves is a necessary husbandry practice and involves separating the calf from its mother, resulting in numerous stressful events including dietary change, social reorganisation and the cessation of the maternal-offspring bond and is often accompanied by housing. While much recent research has focused on the physiological response of the bovine immune system to stress in recent years, little is known about the molecular mechanisms modulating the immune response. Therefore, the objective of this study was to provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the physiological response to weaning at housing in beef calves using Illumina RNA-seq.Results: The leukocyte transcriptome was significantly altered for at least 7 days following either housing or weaning at housing. Analysis of differentially expressed genes revealed that four main pathways, cytokine signalling, transmembrane transport, haemostasis and G-protein-coupled receptor (GPRC) signalling were differentially regulated between control and weaned calves and underwent significant transcriptomic alterations in response to weaning stress on day 1, 2 and 7. Of particular note, chemokines, cytokines and integrins were consistently found to be up-regulated on each day following weaning. Evidence for alternative splicing of genes was also detected, indicating a number of genes involved in the innate and adaptive immune response may be alternatively transcribed, including those responsible for toll receptor cascades and T cell receptor signalling.Conclusions: This study represents the first application of RNA-Seq technology for genomic studies in bovine leukocytes in response to weaning stress. Weaning stress induces the activation of a number of cytokine, chemokine and integrin transcripts and may alter the immune system whereby the ability of a number of cells of the innate and adaptive immune system to locate and destroy pathogens is transcriptionally enhanced. Stress alters the homeostasis of the transcriptomic environment of leukocytes for at least 7 days following weaning, indicating long term effects of stress exposure in the bovine. The identification of gene signature networks that are stress activated provides a mechanistic framework to characterise the multifaceted nature of weaning stress adaptation in beef calves. Thus, capturing subtle transcriptomic changes provides insight into the molecular mechanisms that underlie the physiological response to weaning stress.
    • Transcriptomics of liver and muscle in Holstein cows genetically divergent for fertility highlight differences in nutrient partitioning and inflammation processes

      Moran, Bruce; Cummins, Sean B; Creevey, Christopher J.; Butler, Stephen T. (Biomed Central, 2016-08-11)
      Background The transition between pregnancy and lactation is a major physiological change for dairy cows. Complex systemic and local processes involving regulation of energy balance, galactopoiesis, utilisation of body reserves, insulin resistance, resumption of oestrous cyclicity and involution of the uterus can affect animal productivity and hence farm profitability. Here we used an established Holstein dairy cow model of fertility that displayed genetic and phenotypic divergence in calving interval. Cows had similar genetic merit for milk production traits, but either very good genetic merit for fertility traits (‘Fert+’; n = 8) or very poor genetic merit for fertility traits (‘Fert-’; n = 8). We used RNA sequencing to investigate gene expression profiles in both liver and muscle tissue biopsies at three distinct time-points: late pregnancy, early lactation and mid lactation (-18, 1 and 147 days relative to parturition, respectively). Results We found 807 and 815 unique genes to be differentially expressed in at least one time-point in liver and muscle respectively, of which 79 % and 83 % were only found in a single time-point; 40 and 41 genes were found differentially expressed at every time-point indicating possible systemic or chronic dysregulation. Functional annotation of all differentially expressed genes highlighted two physiological processes that were impacted at every time-point in the study, These were immune and inflammation, and metabolic, lipid and carbohydrate-binding. Conclusion These pathways have previously been identified by other researchers. We show that several specific genes which are differentially regulated, including IGF-1, might impact dairy fertility. We postulate that an increased burden of reactive oxidation species, coupled with a chronic inflammatory state, might reduce dairy cow fertility in our model.