• Actinomyces Produces Defensin-Like Bacteriocins (Actifensins) with a Highly Degenerate Structure and Broad Antimicrobial Activity

      Sugrue, Ivan; O’Connor, Paula M.; Hill, Colin; Stanton, Catherine; Ross, R. Paul; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; JPI; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273 (American Society for Microbiology, 2020-01-29)
      We identified a strain of Actinomyces ruminicola which produces a potent bacteriocin with activity against a broad range of Gram-positive bacteria, many of which are pathogenic to animals and humans. The bacteriocin was purified and found to have a mass of 4,091 ± 1 Da with a sequence of GFGCNLITSNPYQCSNHCKSVGYRGGYCKLRTVCTCY containing three disulfide bridges. Surprisingly, near relatives of actifensin were found to be a series of related eukaryotic defensins displaying greater than 50% identity to the bacteriocin. A pangenomic screen further revealed that production of actifensin-related bacteriocins is a common trait within the genus, with 47 being encoded in 161 genomes. Furthermore, these bacteriocins displayed a remarkable level of diversity with a mean amino acid identity of only 52% between strains/species. This level of redundancy suggests that this new class of bacteriocins may provide a very broad structural basis on which to deliver and design new broad-spectrum antimicrobials for treatment of animal and human infections. IMPORTANCE Bacteriocins (ribosomally produced antimicrobial peptides) are potential alternatives to current antimicrobials given the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance. We identified a novel bacteriocin from Actinomyces ruminicola with no previously characterized antimicrobial activity. Using publicly available genomic data, we found a highly conserved yet divergent family of previously unidentified homologous peptide sequences within the genus Actinomyces with striking similarity to eukaryotic defensins. These actifensins may provide a potent line of antimicrobial defense/offense, and the machinery to produce them could be used for the design of new antimicrobials given the degeneracy that exists naturally in their structure.
    • Administration of a live culture of Lactococcus lactis DPC 3147 into the bovine mammary gland stimulates the local host immune response, particularly IL-1β and IL-8 gene expression

      Beecher, Christine; Daly, Mairead; Berry, Donagh; Klostermann, Katja; Flynn, James; Meaney, William J; Hill, Colin; McCarthy, Tommie V; Ross, R Paul; Giblin, Linda; et al. (Cambridge University Press: Published for the Institute of Food Research and the Hannah Research Institute, 18/05/2009)
      Mastitis is one of the most costly diseases to the dairy farming industry. Conventional antibiotic therapy is often unsatisfactory for successful treatment of mastitis and alternative treatments are continually under investigation. We have previously demonstrated, in two separate field trials, that a probiotic culture, Lactococcus lactis DPC 3147, was comparable to antibiotic therapy to treat bovine mastitis. To understand the mode of action of this therapeutic, we looked at the detailed immune response of the host to delivery of this live strain directly into the mammary gland of six healthy dairy cows. All animals elicited signs of udder inflammation 7 h post infusion. At this time, clots were visible in the milk of all animals in the investigation. The most pronounced increase in immune gene expression was observed in Interleukin (IL)-1b and IL-8, with highest expression corresponding to peaks in somatic cell count. Infusion with a live culture of a Lc. lactis leads to a rapid and considerable innate immune response.
    • Algal Proteins: Extraction, Application, and Challenges Concerning Production

      Bleakley, Stephen; Hayes, Maria; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (MDPI, 26/04/2017)
      Population growth combined with increasingly limited resources of arable land and fresh water has resulted in a need for alternative protein sources. Macroalgae (seaweed) and microalgae are examples of under-exploited “crops”. Algae do not compete with traditional food crops for space and resources. This review details the characteristics of commonly consumed algae, as well as their potential for use as a protein source based on their protein quality, amino acid composition, and digestibility. Protein extraction methods applied to algae to date, including enzymatic hydrolysis, physical processes, and chemical extraction and novel methods such as ultrasound-assisted extraction, pulsed electric field, and microwave-assisted extraction are discussed. Moreover, existing protein enrichment methods used in the dairy industry and the potential of these methods to generate high value ingredients from algae, such as bioactive peptides and functional ingredients are discussed. Applications of algae in human nutrition, animal feed, and aquaculture are examined
    • Antibiotic Resistance in the Gut Microbiota

      Fouhy, Fiona; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Irish Research Council (2014)
      Antibiotic resistance is an increasing threat to our ability to treat infectious diseases. Thus, understanding the effects of antibiotics on the gut microbiota, as well as the potential for such populations to act as a reservoir for resistance genes, is imperative. This thesis set out to investigate the gut microbiota of antibiotic treated infants compared to untreated controls using high-throughput DNA sequencing. The results demonstrated the significant effects of antibiotic treatment, resulting in increased proportions of Proteobacteria and decreased proportions of Bifidobacterium. The species diversity of bifidobacteria was also reduced. This thesis also highlights the ability of the human gut microbiota to act as an antibiotic resistance reservoir. Using metagenomic DNA extracted from faecal samples from adult males, PCR was employed to demonstrate the prevalence and diversity of aminoglycoside and β-lactam resistance genes in the adult gut microbiota and highlighted the merits of the approach adopted. Using infant faecal samples, we constructed and screened a second fosmid metagenomic bank for the same families of resistance genes and demonstrated that the infant gut microbiota is also a reservoir for resistance genes. Using in silico analysis we highlighted the existence of putative aminoglycoside and β-lactam resistance determinants within the genomes of Bifidobacterium species. In the case of the β- lactamases, these appear to be mis-annotated. However, through homologous recombination-mediated insertional inactivation, we have demonstrated that the putative aminoglycoside resistance proteins do contribute to resistance. In additional studies, we investigated the effects of short bowel syndrome on infant gut microbiota, the immune system and bile acid metabolism. We also sequenced the microbiota of the human vermiform appendix, highlighting its complexity. Finally, this thesis demonstrated the strain specific nature of 2 different probiotic CLA-producing Bifidobacterium breve on the murine gut microbiota.
    • Antifungal Peptides as Therapeutic Agents

      Fernández de Ullivarri, Miguel; Arbulu, Sara; Garcia-Gutierrez, Enriqueta; Cotter, Paul D.; Science Foundation Ireland; European Union; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; SFI/12/RC/2273; 754535; 2015066 (Frontiers Media SA, 2020-03-17)
      Fungi have been used since ancient times in food and beverage-making processes and, more recently, have been harnessed for the production of antibiotics and in processes of relevance to the bioeconomy. Moreover, they are starting to gain attention as a key component of the human microbiome. However, fungi are also responsible for human infections. The incidence of community-acquired and nosocomial fungal infections has increased considerably in recent decades. Antibiotic resistance development, the increasing number of immunodeficiency- and/or immunosuppression-related diseases and limited therapeutic options available are triggering the search for novel alternatives. These new antifungals should be less toxic for the host, with targeted or broader antimicrobial spectra (for diseases of known and unknown etiology, respectively) and modes of actions that limit the potential for the emergence of resistance among pathogenic fungi. Given these criteria, antimicrobial peptides with antifungal properties, i.e., antifungal peptides (AFPs), have emerged as powerful candidates due to their efficacy and high selectivity. In this review, we provide an overview of the bioactivity and classification of AFPs (natural and synthetic) as well as their mode of action and advantages over current antifungal drugs. Additionally, natural, heterologous and synthetic production of AFPs with a view to greater levels of exploitation is discussed. Finally, we evaluate the current and potential applications of these peptides, along with the future challenges relating to antifungal treatments.
    • Aroma compound diacetyl suppresses glucagon-like peptide-1 production and secretion in STC-1 cells

      McCarthy, Triona; Bruen, Christine; O'Halloran, Fiona; Schellekens, Harriet; Kilcawley, Kieran; Cryan, John F.; Giblin, Linda; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Enterprise Ireland; CC20080001 (Elsevier, 21/01/2017)
      Diacetyl is a volatile flavour compound that has a characteristic buttery aroma and is widely used in the flavour industry. The aroma of a food plays an important role in food palatability and thus intake. This study investigates the effect of diacetyl on the satiety hormone, glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), using the enteroendocrine cell line, STC-1. Diacetyl decreased proglucagon mRNA and total GLP-1 from glucose stimulated STC-1 cells. This dampening effect on GLP-1 appears to be mediated by increasing intracellular cAMP levels, increasing synthesis of the G protein coupled receptor, GPR120, and its recruitment to the cell surface. Voltage gated Ca2+ channels, K+ATP channels and the α-gustducin taste pathway do not appear to be involved. These findings demonstrate that components contributing to food palatability suppress GLP-1. This ability of diacetyl to reduce satiety signals may contribute to overconsumption of some palatable foods.
    • Assessing the ability of nisin A and derivatives thereof to inhibit gram-negative bacteria from the genus Thermus

      Jonnala, Bhagya R. Yeluri; Feehily, Conor; O'Connor, Paula M.; Field, Des; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; McSweeney, P.L.H.; Sheehan, Diarmuid (JJ); Cotter, Paul D; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-03-31)
      Nisin is a bacteriocin that is globally employed as a biopreservative in food systems to control gram-positive, and some gram-negative, bacteria. Here we tested the bioactivity of nisin A-producing Lactococcus lactis NZ9700 and producers of bioengineered variants thereof against representatives of the gram-negative genus Thermus, which has been associated with the pink discoloration defect in cheese. Starting with a total of 73 nisin variant-producing Lactococcus lactis, bioactivity against Thermus was assessed via agar diffusion assays, and 22 variants were found to have bioactivity greater than or equal to that of the nisin A-producing control. To determine to what extent this enhanced bioactivity was attributable to an increase in specific activity, minimum inhibitory concentrations were determined using the corresponding purified form of these 22 nisin A derivatives. From these experiments, nisin M17Q and M21F were identified as peptides with enhanced antimicrobial activity against the majority of Thermus target strains tested. In addition, several other peptide variants were found to exhibit enhanced specific activity against a subset of strains.
    • Assessment of RNAlater® as a Potential Method to Preserve Bovine Muscle Proteins Compared with Dry Ice in a Proteomic Study

      Zhu, Yao; Mullen, Anne Maria; Rai, Dilip K.; Kelly, Alan L.; Sheehan, David; Cafferky, Jamie; Hamill, Ruth; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; NFFQ0017 (MDPI, 2019-02-05)
      RNAlater® is regarded as a potential preservation method for proteins, while its effect on bovine muscle proteins has rarely been evaluated. Bovine muscle protein samples (n = 12) collected from three tender (Warner–Bratzler shear force: 30.02–31.74 N) and three tough (Warner–Bratzler shear force: 54.12–66.25 N) Longissimus thoracis et lumborum (LTL) samples, preserved using two different sampling preservation methods (RNAlater® and dry ice), at two post mortem time points (day 0 and day 14), were characterized using one-dimensional electrophoresis. Fourteen bands with molecular weights ranging from 15 to 250 kDa were verified, both in the dry ice and RNAlater® storage groups, at each time point, using image analysis. A shift from high to low molecular weight fragments, between day 0 and day 14, indicated proteolysis of the muscle proteins during post mortem storage. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analyses and database searching resulted in the identification of 10 proteins in four bands. Protein profiles of muscle preserved in RNAlater® were similar to those of muscle frozen on dry ice storage, both at day 0 and day 14. The results demonstrate that RNAlater® could be a simple and efficient way to preserve bovine muscle proteins for bovine muscle proteomic studies
    • Association of bovine leptin polymorphisms with energy output and energy storage traits in progeny tested Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle sires

      Giblin, Linda; Butler, Stephen T.; Kearney, Breda M.; Waters, Sinead M.; Callanan, Michael J.; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; RSF-06-0353; et al. (Biomed Central, 29/07/2010)
      Background: Leptin modulates appetite, energy expenditure and the reproductive axis by signalling via its receptor the status of body energy stores to the brain. The present study aimed to quantify the associations between 10 novel and known single nucleotide polymorphisms in genes coding for leptin and leptin receptor with performance traits in 848 Holstein-Friesian sires, estimated from performance of up to 43,117 daughter-parity records per sire. Results: All single nucleotide polymorphisms were segregating in this sample population and none deviated (P > 0.05) from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. Complete linkage disequilibrium existed between the novel polymorphism LEP-1609, and the previously identified polymorphisms LEP-1457 and LEP-580. LEP-2470 associated (P < 0.05) with milk protein concentration and calf perinatal mortality. It had a tendency to associate with milk yield (P < 0.1). The G allele of LEP-1238 was associated (P < 0.05) with reduced milk fat concentration, reduced milk protein concentration, longer gestation length and tended to associate (P < 0.1) with an increase in calving difficulty, calf perinatal mortality and somatic cells in the milk. LEP-963 exhibited an association (P < 0.05) with milk fat concentration, milk protein concentration, calving difficulty and gestation length. It also tended to associate with milk yield (P < 0.1). The R25C SNP associated (P < 0.05) with milk fat concentration, milk protein concentration, calving difficulty and length of gestation. The T allele of the Y7F SNP significantly associated with reduced angularity (P < 0.01) and reduced milk protein yield (P < 0.05). There was also a tendency (P < 0.1) for Y7F to associate with increased body condition score, reduced milk yield and shorter gestation (P < 0.1). A80V associated with reduced survival in the herd (P < 0.05). Conclusions Several leptin polymorphisms (LEP-2470, LEP-1238, LEP-963, Y7F and R25C) associated with the energetically expensive process of lactogenesis. Only SNP Y7F associated with energy storage. Associations were also observed between leptin polymorphisms and calving difficulty, gestation length and calf perinatal mortality. The lack of an association between the leptin variants investigated with calving interval in this large data set would question the potential importance of these leptin variants, or indeed leptin, in selection for improved fertility in the Holstein-Friesian dairy cow.
    • Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis ATCC 15697 and Goat Milk Oligosaccharides Show Synergism In Vitro as Anti-Infectives against Campylobacter jejuni

      Quinn, Erinn M.; Slattery, Helen; Walsh, Dan; Joshi, Lokesh; Hickey, Rita M.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (MDPI AG, 2020-03-17)
      Bifidobacteria are known to inhibit, compete with and displace the adhesion of pathogens to human intestinal cells. Previously, we demonstrated that goat milk oligosaccharides (GMO) increased the attachment of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis ATCC 15697 to intestinal cells in vitro. In this study, we aimed to exploit this effect as a mechanism for inhibiting pathogen association with intestinal cells. We examined the synergistic effect of GMO-treated B. infantis on preventing the attachment of a highly invasive strain of Campylobacter jejuni to intestinal HT-29 cells. The combination decreased the adherence of C. jejuni to the HT-29 cells by an average of 42% compared to the control (non-GMO treated B. infantis). Increasing the incubation time of the GMO with the Bifidobacterium strain resulted in the strain metabolizing the GMO, correlating with a subsequent 104% increase in growth over a 24 h period when compared to the control. Metabolite analysis in the 24 h period also revealed increased production of acetate, lactate, formate and ethanol by GMO-treated B. infantis. Statistically significant changes in the GMO profile were also demonstrated over the 24 h period, indicating that the strain was digesting certain structures within the pool such as lactose, lacto-N-neotetraose, lacto-N-neohexaose 3′-sialyllactose, 6′-sialyllactose, sialyllacto-N-neotetraose c and disialyllactose. It may be that early exposure to GMO modulates the adhesion of B. infantis while carbohydrate utilisation becomes more important after the bacteria have transiently colonised the host cells in adequate numbers. This study builds a strong case for the use of synbiotics that incorporate oligosaccharides sourced from goat′s milk and probiotic bifidobacteria in functional foods, particularly considering the growing popularity of formulas based on goat milk.
    • Bovine whey peptides transit the intestinal barrier to reduce oxidative stress in muscle cells

      Corrochano, Alberto R.; Ferraretto, Anita; Arranz, Elena; Stuknytė, Milda; Bottani, Michela; O'Connor, Paula M.; Kelly, Philip; De Noni, Ivano; Buckin, Vitaly; Giblin, Linda; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-03-06)
      Health benefits are routinely attributed to whey proteins, their hydrolysates and peptides based on in vitro chemical and cellular assays. The objective of this study was to track the fate of whey proteins through the upper gastrointestinal tract, their uptake across the intestinal barrier and then assess the physiological impact to downstream target cells. Simulated gastrointestinal digestion (SGID) released a selection of whey peptides some of which were transported across a Caco-2/HT-29 intestinal barrier, inhibited free radical formation in muscle and liver cells. In addition, SGID of β-lactoglobulin resulted in the highest concentration of free amino acids (176 nM) arriving on the basolateral side of the co-culture with notable levels of branched chain and sulphur-containing amino acids. In vitro results indicate that consumption of whey proteins will deliver bioactive peptides to target cells.
    • Comparative Genomic Analysis Reveals a Diverse Repertoire of Genes Involved in Prokaryote-Eukaryote Interactions within the Pseudovibrio Genus

      Romano, Stefano; Fernandez-Guerra, Antonio; Reen, F. Jerry; Glockner, Frank O.; Crowley, Susan P.; O'Sullivan, Orla; Cotter, Paul D.; Adams, Claire; Dobson, Alan D. W.; O'Gara, Fergal; et al. (Frontiers Media S. A., 30/03/2016)
      Strains of the Pseudovibrio genus have been detected worldwide, mainly as part of bacterial communities associated with marine invertebrates, particularly sponges. This recurrent association has been considered as an indication of a symbiotic relationship between these microbes and their host. Until recently, the availability of only two genomes, belonging to closely related strains, has limited the knowledge on the genomic and physiological features of the genus to a single phylogenetic lineage. Here we present 10 newly sequenced genomes of Pseudovibrio strains isolated from marine sponges from the west coast of Ireland, and including the other two publicly available genomes we performed an extensive comparative genomic analysis. Homogeneity was apparent in terms of both the orthologous genes and the metabolic features shared amongst the 12 strains. At the genomic level, a key physiological difference observed amongst the isolates was the presence only in strain P. axinellae AD2 of genes encoding proteins involved in assimilatory nitrate reduction, which was then proved experimentally. We then focused on studying those systems known to be involved in the interactions with eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. This analysis revealed that the genus harbors a large diversity of toxin-like proteins, secretion systems and their potential effectors. Their distribution in the genus was not always consistent with the phylogenetic relationship of the strains. Finally, our analyses identified new genomic islands encoding potential toxin-immunity systems, previously unknown in the genus. Our analyses shed new light on the Pseudovibrio genus, indicating a large diversity of both metabolic features and systems for interacting with the host. The diversity in both distribution and abundance of these systems amongst the strains underlines how metabolically and phylogenetically similar bacteria may use different strategies to interact with the host and find a niche within its microbiota. Our data suggest the presence of a sponge-specific lineage of Pseudovibrio. The reduction in genome size and the loss of some systems potentially used to successfully enter the host, leads to the hypothesis that P. axinellae strain AD2 may be a lineage that presents an ancient association with the host and that may be vertically transmitted to the progeny.
    • Comparison of antioxidant activities of bovine whey proteins before and after simulated gastrointestinal digestion

      Corrochano, Alberto R.; Sariçay, Yunus; Arranz, Elena; Kelly, Philip; Buckin, Vitaly; Giblin, Linda; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 13 F 354-WheyGSH (Elsevier, 2018-10-24)
      Oxidative stress caused by free radicals has been implicated in several human disorders. Dietary antioxidants can help the body to counteract those reactive species and reduce oxidative stress. Antioxidant activity is one of the multiple health-promoting attributes assigned to bovine whey products. The present study investigated whether this activity was retained during upper gut transit using a static simulated in vitro gastrointestinal digestion (SGID) model. The capacity to scavenge free radicals and reduce ferric ion of whey protein isolate (WPI), individual whey proteins, and hydrolysates pre- and post-SGID were measured and compared using various antioxidant assays. In addition, the free AA released from individual protein fractions in physiological gut conditions were characterized. Our results indicated that the antioxidant activity of WPI after exposure to the harsh conditions of the upper gut significantly increased compared with intact WPI. From an antioxidant bioactivity viewpoint, this exposure negates the need for prior hydrolysis of WPI. The whey protein α-lactalbumin showed the highest antioxidant properties post-SGID (oxygen radical absorbance capacity = 1,825.94 ± 50.21 μmol of Trolox equivalents/g of powder) of the 4 major whey proteins tested with the release of the highest amount of the antioxidant AA tryptophan, 6.955 μmol of tryptophan/g of protein. Therefore, α-lactalbumin should be the preferred whey protein in food formulations to boost antioxidant defenses.
    • Complexes between linoleate and native or aggregated β-lactoglobulin: Interaction parameters and in vitro cytotoxic effect.

      Le Maux, Solene; Bouhallab, Said; Giblin, Linda; Brodkorb, Andre; Croguennec, Thomas; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology; 08/RD/TMFRC/650 (Elsevier, 2013-11)
      Iron is essential for human health, but it sometimes causes an unpleasant taste, rusty colour and a decrease in the stability of food products. Previously, we found that ethanol-treated yeast (ETY) cells could remove iron from wine and juice, and reduce the fishy aftertaste induced by iron in wine–seafood pairings. However, the mechanism of iron sorption by ETY cells is undefined; thus, there is no indicator that can be used to estimate the iron sorption capacity of these cells. In this study, we showed that cell wall components are not mainly associated with iron sorption by investigating ETY cells with the cell wall removed. Moreover, plasma membrane permeability was correlated with the iron sorbing capacity of the cells. Microscopic analysis showed that iron accumulated within ETY cells. Proteinase-treated ETY cells had no iron sorbing capacity. On the basis of these results, we conclude that intracellular proteins are involved in iron sorption by ETY cells.
    • Composition of the early intestinal microbiota: Knowledge, knowledge gaps and the use of high-throughput sequencing to address these gaps

      Fouhy, Fiona; Ross, R Paul; Fitzgerald, Gerald F; STANTON, CATHERINE; Cotter, Paul D.; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Science Foundation Ireland; 11/PI/1137 (Landes Bioscience, 01/05/2012)
      The colonization, development and maturation of the newborn gastrointestinal tract that begins immediately at birth and continues for two years, is modulated by numerous factors including mode of delivery, feeding regime, maternal diet/weight, probiotic and prebiotic use and antibiotic exposure pre-, peri- and post-natally. While in the past, culture-based approaches were used to assess the impact of these factors on the gut microbiota, these have now largely been replaced by culture-independent DNA-based approaches and most recently, high-throughput sequencing-based forms thereof. The aim of this review is to summarize recent research into the modulatory factors that impact on the acquisition and development of the infant gut microbiota, to outline the knowledge recently gained through the use of culture-independent techniques and, in particular, highlight advances in high-throughput sequencing and how these technologies have, and will continue to, fill gaps in our knowledge with respect to the human intestinal microbiota.
    • Crop Establishment Practices Are a Driver of the Plant Microbiota in Winter Oilseed Rape (Brassica napus)

      Rathore, Ridhdhi; Dowling, David N.; Forristal, P.D.; Spink, John; Cotter, Paul D.; Bulgarelli, Davide; Germaine, Kieran J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Royal Society of Edinburgh/Scottish Government Personal Research Fellowship (Frontiers, 2017-08-09)
      Gaining a greater understanding of the plant microbiota and its interactions with its host plant heralds a new era of scientific discovery in agriculture. Different agricultural management practices influence soil microbial populations by changing a soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties. However, the impact of these practices on the microbiota associated with economically important crops such as oilseed rape, are still understudied. In this work we investigated the impact of two contrasting crop establishment practices, conventional (plow based) and conservation (strip–tillage) systems, on the microbiota inhabiting different plant microhabitats, namely rhizosphere, root and shoot, of winter oilseed rape under Irish agronomic conditions. Illumina 16S rRNA gene sequence profiling showed that the plant associated microhabitats (root and shoot), are dominated by members of the bacterial phyla Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes. The root and shoot associated bacterial communities displayed markedly distinct profiles as a result of tillage practices. We observed a very limited ‘rhizosphere effect’ in the root zone of WOSR, i.e., there was little or no increase in bacterial community richness and abundance in the WOSR rhizosphere compared to the bulk soil. The two tillage systems investigated did not appear to lead to any major long term differences on the bulk soil or rhizosphere bacterial communities. Our data suggests that the WOSR root and shoot microbiota can be impacted by management practices and is an important mechanism that could allow us to understand how plants respond to different management practices and environments.
    • Defining optimal DEM resolutions and point densities for modelling hydrologically sensitive areas in agricultural catchments dominated by microtopography

      Thomas, I.A.; Jordan, P.; Shine, O.; Fenton, Owen; Mellander, Per-Erik; Dunlop, P.; Murphy, P.N.C.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier BV, 2017-02)
      Defining critical source areas (CSAs) of diffuse pollution in agricultural catchments depends upon the accurate delineation of hydrologically sensitive areas (HSAs) at highest risk of generating surface runoff pathways. In topographically complex landscapes, this delineation is constrained by digital elevation model (DEM) resolution and the influence of microtopographic features. To address this, optimal DEM resolutions and point densities for spatially modelling HSAs were investigated, for onward use in delineating CSAs. The surface runoff framework was modelled using the Topographic Wetness Index (TWI) and maps were derived from 0.25 m LiDAR DEMs (40 bare-earth points m−2), resampled 1 m and 2 m LiDAR DEMs, and a radar generated 5 m DEM. Furthermore, the resampled 1 m and 2 m LiDAR DEMs were regenerated with reduced bare-earth point densities (5, 2, 1, 0.5, 0.25 and 0.125 points m−2) to analyse effects on elevation accuracy and important microtopographic features. Results were compared to surface runoff field observations in two 10 km2 agricultural catchments for evaluation. Analysis showed that the accuracy of modelled HSAs using different thresholds (5%, 10% and 15% of the catchment area with the highest TWI values) was much higher using LiDAR data compared to the 5 m DEM (70–100% and 10–84%, respectively). This was attributed to the DEM capturing microtopographic features such as hedgerow banks, roads, tramlines and open agricultural drains, which acted as topographic barriers or channels that diverted runoff away from the hillslope scale flow direction. Furthermore, the identification of ‘breakthrough’ and ‘delivery’ points along runoff pathways where runoff and mobilised pollutants could be potentially transported between fields or delivered to the drainage channel network was much higher using LiDAR data compared to the 5 m DEM (75–100% and 0–100%, respectively). Optimal DEM resolutions of 1–2 m were identified for modelling HSAs, which balanced the need for microtopographic detail as well as surface generalisations required to model the natural hillslope scale movement of flow. Little loss of vertical accuracy was observed in 1–2 m LiDAR DEMs with reduced bare-earth point densities of 2–5 points m−2, even at hedgerows. Further improvements in HSA models could be achieved if soil hydrological properties and the effects of flow sinks (filtered out in TWI models) on hydrological connectivity are also considered.
    • A degenerate PCR-based strategy as a means of identifying homologues of aminoglycoside and ß-lactam resistance genes in the gut microbiota

      Fouhy, Fiona; Ross, R Paul; Fitzgerald, Gerald F; STANTON, CATHERINE; Cotter, Paul D.; Irish Research Council; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Science Foundation Ireland; 11/PI/1137 (Biomed Central, 05/02/2014)
      Background: The potential for the human gut microbiota to serve as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes has been the subject of recent discussion. However, this has yet to be investigated using a rapid PCR-based approach. In light of this, here we aim to determine if degenerate PCR primers can detect aminoglycoside and β-lactam resistance genes in the gut microbiota of healthy adults, without the need for an initial culture-based screen for resistant isolates. In doing so, we would determine if the gut microbiota of healthy adults, lacking recent antibiotic exposure, is a reservoir for resistance genes. Results: The strategy employed resulted in the identification of numerous aminoglycoside (acetylation, adenylation and phosphorylation) and β-lactam (including bla OXA, bla TEM, bla SHV and bla CTX-M) resistance gene homologues. On the basis of homology, it would appear that these genes originated from different bacterial taxa, with members of the Enterobacteriaceae being a particularly rich source. The results demonstrate that, even in the absence of recent antibiotic exposure, the human gut microbiota is a considerable reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes. Conclusions: This study has demonstrated that the gut can be a significant source of aminoglycoside and β-lactam resistance genes, even in the absence of recent antibiotic exposure. The results also demonstrate that PCR-based approaches can be successfully applied to detect antibiotic resistance genes in the human gut microbiota, without the need to isolate resistant strains. This approach could also be used to rapidly screen other complex environments for target genes.
    • Detection and characterisation of Complement protein activity in bovine milk by bactericidal sequestration assay

      Maye, Susan; STANTON, CATHERINE; Fitzgerald, Gerald F; Kelly, Philip; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Cambridge University Press for the Institute of Food Research and the Hannah Research Institute, 29/06/2015)
      While the Complement protein system in human milk is well characterised, there is little information on its presence and activity in bovine milk. Complement forms part of the innate immune system, hence the importance of its contribution during milk ingestion to the overall defences of the neonate. A bactericidal sequestration assay, featuring a Complement sensitive strain, Escherichia coli 0111, originally used to characterise Complement activity in human milk was successfully applied to freshly drawn bovine milk samples, thus, providing an opportunity to compare Complement activities in both human and bovine milks. Although not identical in response, the levels of Complement activity in bovine milk were found to be closely comparable with that of human milk. Differential counts of Esch. coli 0111 after 2 h incubation were 6·20 and 6·06 log CFU/ml, for raw bovine and human milks, respectively – the lower value representing a stronger Complement response. Exposing bovine milk to a range of thermal treatments e.g. 42, 45, 65, 72, 85 or 95 °C for 10 min, progressively inhibited Complement activity by increasing temperature, thus confirming the heat labile nature of this immune protein system. Low level Complement activity was found, however, in 65 and 72 °C heat treated samples and in retailed pasteurised milk which highlights the outer limit to which high temperature, short time (HTST) industrial thermal processes should be applied if retention of activity is a priority. Concentration of Complement in the fat phase was evident following cream separation, and this was also reflected in the further loss of activity recorded in low fat variants of retailed pasteurised milk. Laboratory-based churning of the cream during simulated buttermaking generated an aqueous (buttermilk) phase with higher levels of Complement activity than the fat phase, thus pointing to a likely association with the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) layer.
    • Detection of presumptive Bacillus cereus in the Irish dairy farm environment

      O'Connell, Aine; Lawton, Elaine M.; Leong, Dara; Cotter, Paul D.; Gleeson, David E; Guinane, Caitriona M.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 30/01/2016)
      The objective of the study was to isolate potential Bacillus cereus sensu lato (B. cereus s.l.) from a range of farm environments. Samples of tap water, milking equipment rinse water, milk sediment filter, grass, soil and bulk tank milk were collected from 63 farms. In addition, milk liners were swabbed at the start and the end of milking, and swabs were taken from cows’ teats prior to milking. The samples were plated on mannitol egg yolk polymyxin agar (MYP) and presumptive B. cereus s.l. colonies were isolated and stored in nutrient broth with 20% glycerol and frozen at -80 °C. These isolates were then plated on chromogenic medium (BACARA) and colonies identified as presumptive B. cereus s.l. on this medium were subjected to 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequencing. Of the 507 isolates presumed to be B. cereus s.l. on the basis of growth on MYP, only 177 showed growth typical of B. cereus s.l. on BACARA agar. The use of 16S rRNA sequencing to identify isolates that grew on BACARA confirmed that the majority of isolates belonged to B. cereus s.l. A total of 81 of the 98 isolates sequenced were tentatively identified as presumptive B. cereus s.l. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis was carried out on milk and soil isolates from seven farms that were identified as having presumptive B. cereus s.l. No pulsotype was shared by isolates from soil and milk on the same farm. Presumptive B. cereus s.l. was widely distributed within the dairy farm environment.