This collection contains articles published in the Open Access Biomed Central journals by Teagasc authors.

Recent Submissions

  • Metagenomic comparison of the faecal and environmental resistome on Irish commercial pig farms with and without zinc oxide and antimicrobial usage

    Ekhlas, Daniel; Cobo Díaz, José F.; Cabrera-Rubio, Raúl; Alexa, Elena; Ortiz Sanjuán, Juan M.; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Crispie, Fiona; Cotter, Paul D.; Leonard, Finola C.; Argüello, Héctor; et al. (Biomed Central, 2023-12-11)
    Abstract Background Antimicrobials and heavy metals such as zinc oxide (ZnO) have been commonly used on Irish commercial pig farms for a 2-week period post-weaning to help prevent infection. In 2022, the prophylactic use of antimicrobials and ZnO was banned within the European Union due to concerns associated with the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and contamination of the environment with heavy metals. In this study, faecal and environmental samples were taken from piglets during the weaning period from ten commercial farms, of which five farms used antimicrobial or ZnO prophylaxis (AB-ZnO farms) and five which had not used antimicrobials or ZnO for the previous 3 years (AB-ZnO free farms). A total of 50 samples were compared using a metagenomic approach. Results The results of this study showed some significant differences between AB-ZnO and AB-ZnO free farms and suggested positive selection for AMR under antimicrobial and ZnO treatment. Moreover, strong differences between environmental and faecal samples on farms were observed, suggesting that the microbiome and its associated mobile genetic elements may play a key role in the composition of the resistome. Additionally, the age of piglets affected the resistome composition, potentially associated with changes in the microbiome post-weaning. Conclusions Overall, our study showed few differences in the resistome of the pig and its environment when comparing AB-ZnO farms with AB-ZnO free farms. These results suggest that although 3 years of removal of in-feed antimicrobial and ZnO may allow a reduction of AMR prevalence on AB-ZnO farms, more time, repeated sampling and a greater understanding of factors impacting AMR prevalence will be required to ensure significant and persistent change in on-farm AMR.
  • Anti-methanogenic potential of seaweeds and seaweed-derived compounds in ruminant feed: current perspectives, risks and future prospects

    McGurrin, Ailbhe; Maguire, Julie; Tiwari, Brijesh K.; Garcia-Vaquero, Marco; Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postgraduate Scholarship; BlueBio ERA-NET; EPSPG/2021/154 (Biomed Central, 2023-12-02)
    Abstract With methane emissions from ruminant agriculture contributing 17% of total methane emissions worldwide, there is increasing urgency to develop strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this sector. One of the proposed strategies is ruminant feed intervention studies focused on the inclusion of anti-methanogenic compounds which are those capable of interacting with the rumen microbiome, reducing the capacity of ruminal microorganisms to produce methane. Recently, seaweeds have been investigated for their ability to reduce methane in ruminants in vitro and in vivo, with the greatest methane abatement reported when using the red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis (attributed to the bromoform content of this species). From the literature analysis in this study, levels of up to 99% reduction in ruminant methane emissions have been reported from inclusion of this seaweed in animal feed, although further in vivo and microbiome studies are required to confirm these results as other reports showed no effect on methane emission resulting from the inclusion of seaweed to basal feed. This review explores the current state of research aiming to integrate seaweeds as anti-methanogenic feed additives, as well as examining the specific bioactive compounds within seaweeds that are likely to be related to these effects. The effects of the inclusion of seaweeds on the ruminal microbiome are also reviewed, as well as the future challenges when considering the large-scale inclusion of seaweeds into ruminant diets as anti-methanogenic agents.
  • Potential application of phage vB_EfKS5 to control Enterococcus faecalis and its biofilm in food

    El-Telbany, Mohamed; Lin, Chen-Yu; Abdelaziz, Marwa N.; Maung, Aye T.; El-Shibiny, Ayman; Mohammadi, Tahir N.; Zayda, Mahmoud; Wang, Chen; Zar Chi Lwin, Su; Zhao, Junxin; et al. (Biomed Central, 2023-11-20)
  • Early life exposure of infants to benzylpenicillin and gentamicin is associated with a persistent amplification of the gut resistome

    Patangia, Dhrati V.; Grimaud, Ghjuvan; O’Shea, Carol-Anne; Ryan, C. A.; Dempsey, Eugene; STANTON, CATHERINE; Ross, R. P.; European Union—FP7 (Biomed Central, 2024-02-03)
    Abstract Background Infant gut microbiota is highly malleable, but the long-term longitudinal impact of antibiotic exposure in early life, together with the mode of delivery on infant gut microbiota and resistome, is not extensively studied. Methods Two hundred and eight samples from 45 infants collected from birth until 2 years of age over five time points (week 1, 4, 8, 24, year 2) were analysed. Based on shotgun metagenomics, the gut microbial composition and resistome profile were compared in the early life of infants divided into three groups: vaginal delivery/no-antibiotic in the first 4 days of life, C-section/no-antibiotic in the first 4 days of life, and C-section/antibiotic exposed in first 4 days of life. Gentamycin and benzylpenicillin were the most commonly administered antibiotics during this cohort’s first week of life. Results Newborn gut microbial composition differed in all three groups, with higher diversity and stable composition seen at 2 years of age, compared to week 1. An increase in microbial diversity from week 1 to week 4 only in the C-section/antibiotic-exposed group reflects the effect of antibiotic use in the first 4 days of life, with a gradual increase thereafter. Overall, a relative abundance of Actinobacteria and Bacteroides was significantly higher in vaginal delivery/no-antibiotic while Proteobacteria was higher in C-section/antibiotic-exposed infants. Strains from species belonging to Bifidobacterium and Bacteroidetes were generally persistent colonisers, with Bifidobacterium breve and Bifidobacterium bifidum species being the major persistent colonisers in all three groups. Bacteroides persistence was dominant in the vaginal delivery/no-antibiotic group, with species Bacteroides ovatus and Phocaeicola vulgatus found to be persistent colonisers in the no-antibiotic groups. Most strains carrying antibiotic-resistance genes belonged to phyla Proteobacteria and Firmicutes, with the C-section/antibiotic-exposed group presenting a higher frequency of antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs). Conclusion These data show that antibiotic exposure has an immediate and persistent effect on the gut microbiome in early life. As such, the two antibiotics used in the study selected for strains (mainly Proteobacteria) which were multiple drug-resistant (MDR), presumably a reflection of their evolutionary lineage of historical exposures—leading to what can be an extensive and diverse resistome. Video Abstract
  • Farmers’ knowledge of Johne’s disease and opinions of the Irish Johne’s Control Programme: results of an online survey answered mostly by young farmers

    Horan, Louise; Mee, John F.; Field, Niamh L.; Walsh, Siobhán W.; Valldecabres, Ainhoa; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship programme (Biomed Central, 2023-10-20)
    Abstract A voluntary control programme for Johne’s disease, the Irish Johne’s Control Programme (IJCP) has been implemented in Ireland since 2017. The objective of this observational study was to assess Irish beef and dairy farmers’ Johne’s disease knowledge, implemented management practices and IJCP opinions. A questionnaire open to dairy and beef farmers was distributed via social media and email. In total 126 responses were used for this study; these responses came from mostly young farmers (18–25 years old) and represent a small proportion of the total number of dairy and beef farmers in Ireland whose average age is 55. Most respondents claimed to know what Johne’s disease was (73%; 92/126) and associated the disease to loss of body condition (68%; 78/114) and diarrhoea (59%; 67/114). Twenty-eight respondents (mostly dairy farmers; 22/28) reported positive cases in their premises. And 38% reported to implement management practices to prevent Johne’s disease transmission within or into their herd (i.e. management of milk for calf consumption and isolation of Johne’s test-positive or newly purchased stock; 47/124). Eighteen percent (22/125) of respondents were, at the time of questionnaire or previously, members of the IJCP. The main benefits reported by some of the participating farmers were identification of positive cases (29%; 4/14), and management of milk for calf consumption (21%; 3/14). While the main disadvantage was inaccurate testing methods (50%; 10/20). The main reasons reported for the lack of participation in the IJCP were not being aware of the programme (52%; 53/102) and not having a Johne’s disease problem on the farm (48%; 49/102). In conclusion, this study suggests that while young farmers are aware of Johne’s disease, their participation in the IJCP is limited and could benefit from further promotion. Studies representing the wider farming community in Ireland are warranted to gather non-biased input and contribute to Johne’s disease control in Ireland.
  • Immunoproteomic analysis of the serum IgG response to cell wall-associated proteins of Staphylococcus aureus strains belonging to CC97 and CC151

    Drumm, Shauna D.; Cormican, Paul; Owens, Rebecca A.; Mitchell, Jennifer; Keane, Orla M.; Teagasc; Science Foundation Ireland; 0048GE; 12/RI/2346 (3) (2023-09-18)
    CC97 and CC151 are two of the most common Staphylococcus aureus lineages associated with bovine intramammary infection. The genotype of the infecting S. aureus strain influences virulence and the progression of intramammary disease. Strains from CC97 and CC151 encode a distinct array of virulence factors. Identification of proteins elaborated in vivo will provide insights into the molecular mechanism of pathogenesis of these lineages, as well as facilitating the development of tailored treatments and pan-lineage vaccines and diagnostics. The repertoire of genes encoding cell wall-anchored (CWA) proteins was identified for S. aureus strains MOK023 (CC97) and MOK124 (CC151); MOK023 encoded more CWA proteins than MOK124. Serum collected during an in vivo challenge trial was used to investigate whether the humoral response to cell wall proteins was strain-specific. Immunoproteomic analysis demonstrated that the humoral response in MOK023-infected cows predominantly targeted high molecular weight proteins while the response in MOK124-infected cows targeted medium or low molecular weight proteins. Antigenic proteins were identified by two-dimensional serum blotting followed by mass spectometry-based identification of immunoreactive spots, with putative antigens subsequently validated. The CWA proteins ClfB, SdrE/Bbp and IsdA were identified as immunogenic regardless of the infecting strain. In addition, a number of putative strain-specific imunogens were identified. The variation in antigens produced by different strains may indicate that these strains have different strategies for exploiting the intramammary niche. Such variation should be considered when developing novel control strategies including vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
  • Analysing biomarkers in oral fluid from pigs: influence of collection strategy and age of the pig

    Ornelas, Mario A. S.; López‑Martínez, María J.; Franco-Martínez, Lorena; Cerón, José J.; Ortín-Bustillo, Alba; Rubio, Camila P.; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; Fundación Séneca, Región de Murcia (Spain); et al. (Biomed Central, 2023-08-30)
    Background and objectives Oral fluid (OF) is an easy-to-collect, inexpensive, fast and non-invasive sample to characterize health and welfare status of the pig. However, further standardisation of the collection methods is needed in order to use it regularly in veterinary practice. Cotton ropes are routinely used to collect OF for pathogen detection but they may not be optimal for biomarker analysis due to sample contamination. This study compared two methods (cotton ropes and sponges) to collect porcine OF for biomarker analysis. A panel of 11 biomarkers of stress, inflammation, sepsis, immunity, redox status and general homeostasis was studied. Materials and methods Eighteen farrow-to-finish pig farms were included in the study. In each farm, three (for sponges) or four pens of pigs (for ropes) were sampled at four age categories: the week after weaning (5 weeks), before (11–12 weeks) and after (12–13 weeks) moving to finisher facility and the week before slaughter (22–25 weeks). In total, 288 OF samples were collected with cotton ropes and 216 with sponges and analysed for the biomarkers: cortisol, alpha-amylase, oxytocin (stress), haptoglobin (inflammation), procalcitonin (sepsis), adenosine deaminase, immunoglobulin G (immune system), ferric reducing antioxidant power (redox status), and creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase and total protein (general homeostasis). Samples were also scored visually for dirtiness using a score from 1 (clean) to 5 (very dirty). Results Rope-collected OF had higher levels of dirtiness (3.7 ± 0.04) compared to sponge-collected OF (2.7 ± 0.15) and had higher values than sponges for cortisol, procalcitonin, oxytocin, haptoglobin, total protein, lactate dehydrogenase and ferric reducing antioxidant power. All biomarkers decreased in value with age. Immunoglobulin G did not perform well for any of the two collection methods. Discussion and conclusion The results showed a clear effect of age on the biomarkers in OF collected with both, sponges or ropes. Sponges provided a cleaner sample than cotton ropes for biomarker analysis. Both methods are easy to apply under the commercial conditions in pig farms although sponges may take more time in early weaner stages. From a practical point of view, sampling with sponges achieved the best combination of reduced sampling time and low contamination.
  • Understanding the underlying genetic mechanisms for age at first calving, inter-calving period and scrotal circumference in Bonsmara cattle

    Reding, Jason J.; van der Westhuizen, Robert R.; Berry, Donagh P.; van Marle-Köster, Este; South African Beef Genomics Project (Biomed Central, 2023-08-24)
    Background Reproduction is a key feature of the sustainability of a species and thus represents an important component in livestock genetic improvement programs. Most reproductive traits are lowly heritable. In order to gain a better understanding of the underlying genetic basis of these traits, a genome-wide association was conducted for age at first calving (AFC), first inter-calving period (ICP) and scrotal circumference (SC) within the South African Bonsmara breed. Phenotypes and genotypes (120,692 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) post editing) were available on 7,128 South African Bonsmara cattle; the association analyses were undertaken using linear mixed models. Results Genomic restricted maximum likelihood analysis of the 7,128 SA Bonsmara cattle yielded genomic heritability’s of 0.183 (SE = 0.021) for AFC, 0.207 (SE = 0.022) for ICP and 0.209 (SE = 0.019) for SC. A total of 16, 23 and 51 suggestive (P ≤ 4 × 10-6) SNPs were associated with AFC, ICP and SC, while 11, 11 and 44 significant (P ≤ 4 × 10-7) SNPs were associated with AFC, ICP and SC respectively. A total of 11 quantitative trait loci (QTL) and 11 candidate genes were co-located with these associated SNPs for AFC, with 10 QTL harbouring 11 candidate genes for ICP and 41 QTL containing 40 candidate genes for SC. The QTL identified were close to genes previously associated with carcass, fertility, growth and milk-related traits. The biological pathways influenced by these genes include carbohydrate catabolic processes, cellular development, iron homeostasis, lipid metabolism and storage, immune response, ovarian follicle development and the regulation of DNA transcription and RNA translation. Conclusions This was the first attempt to study the underlying polymorphisms associated with reproduction in South African beef cattle. Genes previously reported in cattle breeds for numerous traits bar AFC, ICP or SC were detected in this study. Over 20 different genes have not been previously reported in beef cattle populations and may have been associated due to the unique genetic composite background of the SA Bonsmara breed.
  • Changes in salivary biomarkers of stress, inflammation, redox status, and muscle damage due to Streptococcus suis infection in pigs

    López-Martínez, María J.; Ornelas, Mario A. S.; Amarie, Roxana E.; Manzanilla, Edgar G.; Martínez-Subiela, Silvia; Tecles, Fernando; Tvarijonaviciute, Asta; Escribano, Damián; González-Bulnes, Antonio; Cerón, José J.; et al. (Biomed Central, 2023-07-31)
    Background Streptococcus suis (S. suis) is a Gram-positive bacteria that infects pigs causing meningitis, arthritis, pneumonia, or endocarditis. This increases the mortality in pig farms deriving in severe economic losses. The use of saliva as a diagnostic fluid has various advantages compared to blood, especially in pigs. In this study, it was hypothesized that saliva could reflect changes in different biomarkers related to stress, inflammation, redox status, and muscle damage in pigs with S. suis infection and that changes in these biomarkers could be related to the severity of the disease. Results A total of 56 growing pigs from a farm were selected as infected pigs (n = 28) and healthy pigs (n = 28). Results showed increases in biomarkers related to stress (alpha-amylase and oxytocin), inflammation (haptoglobin, inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor heavy chain 4 (ITIH4), total protein, S100A8-A9 and S100A12), redox status (advanced oxidation protein producs (AOPP)) and muscle damage (creatine kinase (CK), CK-MB, troponin I, lactate, aspartate aminotransferase, and lactate dehydrogenase). An increase in adenosine deaminase (ADA), procalcitonin, and aldolase in infected animals were also observed, as previously described. The grade of severity of the disease indicated a significant positive correlation with total protein concentrations, aspartate aminotransferase, aldolase, and AOPP. Conclusions This report revealed that S. suis infection caused variations in analytes related to stress, inflammation, redox status, and muscle damage in the saliva of pigs and these can be considered potential biomarkers for this disease.
  • Microbiome ethics, guiding principles for microbiome research, use and knowledge management

    Lange, Lene; Berg, Gabriele; Cernava, Tomislav; Champomier-Vergès, Marie-Christine; Charles, Trevor; Cocolin, Luca; Cotter, Paul; D’Hondt, Kathleen; Kostic, Tanja; Maguin, Emmanuelle; et al. (Biomed Central, 2022-09-30)
    The overarching biological impact of microbiomes on their hosts, and more generally their environment, reflects the co-evolution of a mutualistic symbiosis, generating fitness for both. Knowledge of microbiomes, their systemic role, interactions, and impact grows exponentially. When a research field of importance for planetary health evolves so rapidly, it is essential to consider it from an ethical holistic perspective. However, to date, the topic of microbiome ethics has received relatively little attention considering its importance. Here, ethical analysis of microbiome research, innovation, use, and potential impact is structured around the four cornerstone principles of ethics: Do Good; Don’t Harm; Respect; Act Justly. This simple, but not simplistic approach allows ethical issues to be communicative and operational. The essence of the paper is captured in a set of eleven microbiome ethics recommendations, e.g., proposing gut microbiome status as common global heritage, similar to the internationally agreed status of major food crops.
  • Value of simplified lung lesions scoring systems to inform future codes for routine meat inspection in pigs

    Pessoa, Joana; McAloon, Conor; Boyle, Laura; García Manzanilla, Edgar; Norton, Tomas; Rodrigues da Costa, Maria; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 0165; PathSurvPig 14/S/832 (Biomed Central, 2023-06-30)
    Background Across the European Union (EU), efforts are being made to achieve modernisation and harmonisation of meat inspection (MI) code systems. Lung lesions were prioritised as important animal based measures at slaughter, but existing standardized protocols are difficult to implement for routine MI. This study aimed to compare the informative value and feasibility of simplified lung lesion scoring systems to inform future codes for routine post mortem MI. Results Data on lung lesions in finisher pigs were collected at slaughter targeting 83 Irish pig farms, with 201 batches assessed, comprising 31,655 pairs of lungs. Lungs were scored for cranioventral pulmonary consolidations (CVPC) and pleurisy lesions using detailed scoring systems, which were considered the gold standard. Using the data collected, scenarios for possible simplified scoring systems to record CVPC (n = 4) and pleurisy (n = 4) lesions were defined. The measurable outcomes were the prevalence and (if possible) severity scoring at batch level for CVPC and pleurisy. An arbitrary threshold was set to the upper quartile (i.e., the top 25% of batches with high prevalence/severity of CVPC or pleurisy, n = 50). Each pair of measurable outcomes was compared by calculating Spearman rank correlations and assessing if batches above the threshold for one measurable outcome were also above it for their pairwise comparison. All scenarios showed perfect agreement (k = 1) when compared among themselves and the gold standard for the prevalence of CVPC. The agreement among severity outcomes and the gold standard showed moderate to perfect agreement (k = [0.66, 1]). The changes in ranking were negligible for all measurable outcomes of pleurisy for scenarios 1, 2 and 3 when compared with the gold standard (rs ≥ 0.98), but these changes amounted to 50% for scenario 4. Conclusions The best simplified CVPC scoring system is to simply count the number of lung lobes affected excluding the intermediate lobe, which provides the best trade-off between value of information and feasibility, by incorporating information on CVPC prevalence and severity. While for pleurisy evaluation, scenario 3 is recommended. This simplified scoring system provides information on the prevalence of cranial and moderate and severe dorsocaudal pleurisy. Further validation of the scoring systems at slaughter and by private veterinarians and farmers is needed.
  • Understanding agricultural land leasing in Ireland: a transaction cost approach

    Onofri, Laura; Trestini, Samuele; Mamine, Fateh; Loughrey, Jason (Biomed Central, 2023-06-08)
    Formal written land leasing contracts offer an alternative to land purchase for those farmers wishing to expand their land area and provide greater security relative to informal short-term rental agreements and are particularly important for beginning farmers with resources insufficient to purchase land. Formal land leasing contracts vary in terms of their duration, but there is limited understanding about the determinants of contract duration in developed countries. In this research, we use econometric techniques and transaction level data to explore the determinants of duration for agricultural land lease contracts for two regions in Ireland. Under the transaction cost economics approach, the research explores the role of legal status, price and non-price conditions in influencing the contract duration. Results indicate that the legal status of the tenant is a significant factor in influencing the duration. Provisions such as break clauses appear positively related to duration and confirm the theoretical expectation that long-term contracts create a demand for processes that enable adaptation over the course of long-term exchange.
  • Variation in the proportion of the segregating genome shared between full-sibling cattle and sheep

    Kenny, David; Berry, Donagh P.; Pabiou, Thierry; Rafter, Pierce; European Union Horizon 2020; Science Foundation Ireland; GenTore 727213; INTAQT 101000250; 16/RC/3835 (Biomed Central, 2023-04-18)
    The construction of covariance matrices that account for the genetic relationships among individuals, using pedigree or genotype data, is integral to genetic evaluations, which are now routinely used in the field of animal breeding. The objective of the present study was to estimate the standard deviation in the proportion of the segregating genome that is shared between pairs of full-sibling cattle and sheep independently. Post edits, genotype data comprising 46,069 autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were available for 4532 unique full-sibling sheep pairs, as well as for their respective parents. Post edits, genotypes from 50,493 autosomal SNPs were also available for 10,000 unique full-sibling cattle pairs, as well as their respective parents. Genomic relationship matrices were constructed for the sheep and cattle populations, separately. After accounting for both parental genomic inbreeding and the genomic relationship between both parents, the standard deviation in full-sibling cattle and sheep genomic relationships was 0.040 and 0.037 units, respectively. In addition, the intercept value from a linear regression model which regressed each full-sibling genomic relationship on both sire and dam inbreeding, as well as the genomic relationship between the parents, was 0.499 (0.001) for sheep and 0.500 (0.001) for cattle, conforming to the expectation that full-siblings, on average, share 50% of their segregating genome.
  • Behaviour change interventions for responsible antimicrobial use on farms

    Regan, Aine; Burrell, Alison; McKernan, Claire; Martin, Hannah; Benson, Tony; McAloon, Conor; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Dean, Moira; Safefood (the Food Safety Promotion Board); 04–2018 (Biomed Central, 2023-04-03)
    Background In the coming years, major governance changes in the form of policy directives and regulations will catalyse major top-down change with respect to animal health on European farms in an effort to combat the OneHealth threat of antimicrobial resistance. This top-down approach must be met with bottom-up strategies to ensure target actors (namely, farmers and vets) are supported and motivated to change their practices, thus, avoiding unintended consequences of forced change. Although much behavioural research has explored the factors influencing antimicrobial practices on farms, a gap exists translating these findings into evidence-based behaviour change interventions that can be put into practice. The current study aims to fill this gap. It provides insights into identifying, understanding, and changing the behaviours of farmers and veterinarians with respect to the responsible use of antimicrobials in farming. Results Through an inter-disciplinary and multi-actor approach, the study combines scientific knowledge from the behavioural sciences and animal health sciences, coupled with tacit knowledge from a co-design, participatory approach to recommend seven behaviour change interventions that can help to support good practices amongst farmers and vets, with respect to animal health, and reduce the use of antimicrobials on farms. The behaviour change interventions include message framing; OneHealth awareness campaign; specialised communications training; on-farm visual prompts and tools; social support strategies (for both farmers and vets); and antimicrobial use monitoring. The study details each intervention with respect to their evidence base and scientific concept, grounded in behavioural science, along with stakeholder feedback on design and delivery of the interventions. Conclusions These behaviour change interventions can be taken, adapted, and put into practice by the agri-food community to support good animal health practices and responsible antimicrobial use on farms.
  • Green synthesis of nanomaterials for smart biopolymer packaging: challenges and outlooks

    Jafarzadeh, Shima; Nooshkam, Majid; Zargar, Masoumeh; Garavand, Farhad; Ghosh, Sabyasachi; Hadidi, Milad; Forough, Mehrdad (Biomed Central, 2023-02-26)
    Abstract There are several physical and chemical methods for synthesizing nanomaterials, while the most appropriate techniques involve using green chemistry and eco-friendly material. Recently, green synthesized materials for different applications have gained attention as a result of their environmental friendliness and cost-effectiveness. Applying green synthesized nanoparticles (NPS) in food packaging has been extensively investigated. Biopolymers require filler to enhance the optical, barrier, thermal, antimicrobial, and mechanical properties of packaging. Biopolymer packaging incorporated with green synthesized NPs is expected to simultaneously enhance performance while reducing environmental damage. The current review article focuses on biopolymer films with bio (green)-synthesized nanomaterials and their effectiveness in reducing the negative environmental implications of synthetic packaging. It also covers the general concepts of green synthesis of NPs, their production methods, their performance, and characterization, and discusses the potential, performance and recent developments of bio-nanocomposite films/coatings in biodegradable food packaging. Recent reports and trends provide more insight into the impact of green synthesized nanomaterials on food packaging.
  • Insights on the effects of antimicrobial and heavy metal usage on the antimicrobial resistance profiles of pigs based on culture-independent studies

    Ekhlas, Daniel; Argüello, Héctor; Leonard, Finola C.; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Burgess, Catherine; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Scheme; Spanish Ministry of Education; 2018027; BEAGAL-18–106 (Biomed Central, 2023-02-23)
    Antimicrobial resistance is a global threat to human, animal, and environmental health. In pig production, antimicrobials and heavy metals such as zinc oxide are commonly used for treatment and prevention of disease. Nevertheless, the effects of antimicrobials and heavy metals on the porcine resistome composition and the factors influencing this resistance profile are not fully understood. Advances in technologies to determine the presence of antimicrobial resistance genes in diverse sample types have enabled a more complete understanding of the resistome and the factors which influence its composition. The aim of this review is to provide a greater understanding of the influence of antimicrobial and heavy metal usage on the development and transmission of antimicrobial resistance on pig farms. Furthermore, this review aims to identify additional factors that can affect the porcine resistome. Relevant literature that used high-throughput sequencing or quantitative PCR methods to examine links between antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial and heavy metal use was identified using a systematic approach with PubMed (NCBI), Scopus (Elsevier), and Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics) databases. In total, 247 unique records were found and 28 publications were identified as eligible for inclusion in this review. Based on these, there is clear evidence that antimicrobial and heavy metal use are positively linked with antimicrobial resistance in pigs. Moreover, associations of genes conferring antimicrobial resistance with mobile genetic elements, the microbiome, and the virome were reported, which were further influenced by the host, the environment, or the treatment itself.
  • Assessing the feasibility, fidelity and acceptability of a behaviour change intervention to improve tractor safety on farms: protocol for the BeSafe tractor safety feasibility study

    Surendran, Aswathi; McSharry, Jenny; Meredith, David; McNamara, John; Bligh, Francis; Meade, Oonagh; O’Hora, Denis; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Biomed Central, 2023-07-04)
    Background In Ireland, the agriculture sector reports the highest number of fatalities even though farmers constitute only 6% of the working population. Tractor-related behaviours are implicated in 55% of all vehicle work-related fatalities and 25% of reported injuries, and many of these occur in farmyards. There is limited research on the feasibility and acceptability of behaviour change interventions to improve tractor safety. Target behaviours that promote safe operation in farmyards, determining and addressing blind spots of tractors, were identified, and an intervention was developed following the Behaviour Change Wheel Approach. The objective of the study is to examine the feasibility, fidelity and acceptability of a behaviour change intervention to enhance the safe operation of tractors in farmyards with a particular focus on tractor blind spots. Method A single group feasibility study will be undertaken. Approximately 16 farmers from four major farm types will be recruited for the study between August and September 2022. The intervention involves an in-person demo session, facilitated discussion and personalised safety training procedure with safety goals. The study will collect data from participants at three time points: baseline (3–10 days prior to the intervention), during the intervention and at the follow-up session (7–30 days post-intervention). Quantitative data will be collected through a pre-intervention interview and feedback surveys. A pre- and post-intervention qualitative interview will also be conducted with the participants and will be supplemented with qualitative data from recruitment logs, observational memos and logs and feedback from recruiters. Evaluation of the feasibility, acceptability and fidelity of the intervention will be guided by a pre-determined feasibility checklist, fidelity framework and theoretical framework of acceptability, respectively. Interviews will be analysed using the content analysis. Discussion The current study can determine the feasibility and fidelity of delivering a systematic, theoretically driven, tailored behaviour change intervention. It will also assess whether the intervention, its ingredients and delivery are acceptable to the farming population. This study will also inform the development of a future larger trial to test the effectiveness of the intervention. Trial registration ISRCTN Identifier: ISRCTN22219089. Date applied 29 July 2022
  • Comparison of antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli isolated from Irish commercial pig farms with and without zinc oxide and antimicrobial usage

    Ekhlas, Daniel; Sanjuán, Juan M. O.; Manzanilla, Edgar G.; Leonard, Finola C.; Argüello, Héctor; Burgess, Catherine M.; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; Spanish Ministry of Education; 2018027; BEAGAL-18-106 (Biomed Central, 2023-02-24)
    Background The prophylactic use of antimicrobials and zinc oxide (ZnO) in pig production was prohibited by the European Union in 2022 due to potential associations between antimicrobial and heavy metal usage with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and concerns regarding environmental pollution. However, the effects of their usage on the bacterial AMR profiles on commercial pig farms are still not fully understood and previous studies examining the effect of ZnO have reported contrasting findings. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of antimicrobial and ZnO usage on AMR on commercial pig farms. Faecal and environmental samples were taken on 10 Irish commercial farms, of which 5 farms regularly used ZnO and antimicrobials (amoxicillin or sulphadiazine-trimethoprim) for the prevention of disease. The other 5 farms did not use ZnO or any other form of prophylaxis. Escherichia coli numbers were quantified from all samples using non-supplemented and supplemented Tryptone Bile X-glucuronide agar. Results In total 351 isolates were phenotypically analysed, and the genomes of 44 AmpC/ESBL-producing E. coli isolates from 4 farms were characterised using whole-genome sequencing. Phenotypic analysis suggested higher numbers of multi-drug resistant (MDR) E. coli isolates on farms using prophylaxis. Furthermore, farms using prophylaxis were associated with higher numbers of isolates resistant to apramycin, trimethoprim, tetracycline, streptomycin, and chloramphenicol, while resistance to ciprofloxacin was more associated with farms not using any prophylaxis. Thirty-four of the 44 AmpC/ESBL-producing E. coli strains harboured the blaCTX-M-1 resistance gene and were multi drug resistant (MDR). Moreover, network analysis of plasmids and analysis of integrons showed that antimicrobial and biocide resistance genes were frequently co-located on mobile genetic elements, indicating the possibility for co-selection during antimicrobial or biocide usage as a contributor to AMR occurrence and persistence on farms. Conclusions The results of this study showed evidence that antimicrobial and ZnO treatment of pigs post-weaning can favour the selection and development of AMR and MDR E. coli. Co-location of resistance genes on mobile genetic elements was observed. This study demonstrated the usefulness of phenotypic and genotypic detection of antimicrobial resistance by combining sequencing and microbiological methods.
  • Blood and faecal biomarkers to assess dietary energy, protein and amino acid efficiency of utilization by growing and finishing pigs

    Camp Montoro, Jordi; Solà-Oriol, David; Muns, Ramon; Gasa, Josep; Llanes, Núria; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Scheme; 0415 (Biomed Central, 2022-07-04)
    Background Diet evaluation and optimization is a slow and expensive process and it is not possible to do it at a farm level. This study aimed to use the blood serum metabolite (BSM) and faecal volatile fatty acid (VFA) profiles as potential biomarkers to identify changes in protein, amino acid and energy dietary content in growing and finishing pig diets at farm level. Results Two studies were conducted. The first study (S1) included 20 pens of 11 pigs (87.0 ± 4.10 kg; 18 weeks old) assigned to 5 diets: control (C1), high or low crude protein (HP1 and LP1, respectively), and high or low net energy (HE1 and LE1, respectively). The second study (S2) included 28 pens of 11 pigs (41.3 ± 2.60 kg; 12 weeks old) assigned to 7 diets: control (C2), high or low crude protein (HP2 and LP2, respectively), high or low amino acid (HA2 and LA2, respectively), and high or low net energy (HE2 and LE2, respectively). Pigs were followed for 10 (S1) and 20 (S2) days, and blood and faecal samples were collected at 20 (S1) and 14 (S2) weeks of age. Data were analysed using general linear models and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Urea nitrogen showed the best results as a biomarker. Urea nitrogen was higher in pigs fed high protein diets, HP1 (13.6 ± 0.95 mg/dL) and HP2 (11.6 ± 0.61), compared to those fed low protein diets, LP1 (6.0 ± 0.95) and LP2 (5.2 ± 0.61; P < 0.001), showing good discrimination ability (Area under the curve (AUC) = 98.4 and 100%, respectively). These differences were not observed between diets LA2 (6.5 ± 0.61) and HA2 (8.7 ± 0.61; P > 0.05; AUC = 71.9%), which were formulated based on the ideal protein profile but with no excess of protein. Creatinine, triglycerides, branched-chain fatty acids, albumin, propionic acid, and cholesterol showed differences between at least 2 diets but only in one of the studies. Conclusions Urea nitrogen showed high accuracy to detect excess of crude protein in growing and finishing pig diets. Other biomarkers like BCFA showed promising results and need to be further studied.
  • Modelling transmission of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis between Irish dairy cattle herds

    Biemans, Floor; Tratalos, Jamie; Arnoux, Sandie; Ramsbottom, George; More, Simon J.; Ezanno, Pauline; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; NexusMAP (Biomed Central, 2022-06-22)
    Bovine paratuberculosis is an endemic disease caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (Map). Map is mainly transmitted between herds through movement of infected but undetected animals. Our objective was to investigate the effect of observed herd characteristics on Map spread on a national scale in Ireland. Herd characteristics included herd size, number of breeding bulls introduced, number of animals purchased and sold, and number of herds the focal herd purchases from and sells to. We used these characteristics to classify herds in accordance with their probability of becoming infected and of spreading infection to other herds. A stochastic individual-based model was used to represent herd demography and Map infection dynamics of each dairy cattle herd in Ireland. Data on herd size and composition, as well as birth, death, and culling events were used to characterize herd demography. Herds were connected with each other through observed animal trade movements. Data consisted of 13 353 herds, with 4 494 768 dairy female animals, and 72 991 breeding bulls. We showed that the probability of an infected animal being introduced into the herd increases both with an increasing number of animals that enter a herd via trade and number of herds from which animals are sourced. Herds that both buy and sell a lot of animals pose the highest infection risk to other herds and could therefore play an important role in Map spread between herds.

View more