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

Recent Submissions

  • Comparative analysis of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii genomes shows a high level of genome plasticity and warrants separation into new species-level taxa

    Fitzgerald, Cormac B; Shkoporov, Andrey N; Sutton, Thomas D S; Chaplin, Andrei V; Velayudhan, Vimalkumar; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Science Foundation Ireland; European Regional Development Fund; European Regional Development Fund; et al. (Biomed Central, 2018-12-14)
    Background Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is a ubiquitous member of the human gut microbiome, constituting up to 15% of the total bacteria in the human gut. Substantial evidence connects decreased levels of F. prausnitzii with the onset and progression of certain forms of inflammatory bowel disease, which has been attributed to its anti-inflammatory potential. Two phylogroups of F. prausnitzii have been identified, with a decrease in phylogroup I being a more sensitive marker of intestinal inflammation. Much of the genomic and physiological data available to date was collected using phylogroup II strains. Little analysis of F. prausnitzii genomes has been performed so far and genetic differences between phylogroups I and II are poorly understood. Results In this study we sequenced 11 additional F. prausnitzii genomes and performed comparative genomics to investigate intraspecies diversity, functional gene complement and the mobilome of 31 high-quality draft and complete genomes. We reveal a very low level of average nucleotide identity among F. prausnitzii genomes and a high level of genome plasticity. Two genomogroups can be separated based on differences in functional gene complement, albeit that this division does not fully agree with separation based on conserved gene phylogeny, highlighting the importance of horizontal gene transfer in shaping F. prausnitzii genomes. The difference between the two genomogroups is mainly in the complement of genes associated with catabolism of carbohydrates (such as a predicted sialidase gene in genomogroup I) and amino acids, as well as defense mechanisms. Conclusions Based on the combination of ANI of genomic sequences, phylogenetic analysis of core proteomes and functional differences we propose to separate the species F. prausnitzii into two new species level taxa: F. prausnitzii sensu stricto (neotype strain A2–165T = DSM 17677T = JCM 31915T) and F. moorei sp. nov. (type strain ATCC 27768T = NCIMB 13872T).
  • The impact of cattle dung pats on earthworm distribution in grazed pastures

    Bacher, M. G; Fenton, Owen; Bondi, G.; Creamer, Rachel E.; Karmarkar, M.; Schmidt, Olaf; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13/S/468 (Biomed Central, 2018-12-19)
    Background Grazed grassland management regimes can have various effects on soil fauna. For example, effects on earthworms can be negative through compaction induced by grazing animals, or positive mediated by increases in sward productivity and cattle dung pats providing a food source. Knowledge gaps exist in relation to the behaviour of different earthworm species i.e. their movement towards and aggregation under dung pats, the legacy effects of pats and the spatial area of recruitment. The present study addressed these knowledge gaps in field experiments, over 2 years, using natural and simulated dung pats on two permanent, intensively grazed pastures in Ireland. Results Dung pats strongly affected spatial earthworm distribution, with up to four times more earthworms aggregating beneath pats, than in the control locations away from pats. In these earthworm communities comprising 11 species, temporally different aggregation and dispersal patterns were observed, including absence of individual species from control locations, but no clear successional responses. Epigeic species in general, but also certain species of the anecic and endogeic groups were aggregating under dung. Sampling after complete dung pat disappearance (27 weeks after application) suggested an absence of a dung pat legacy effect on earthworm communities. Based on species distributions, the maximum size of the recruitment area from which earthworms moved to pats was estimated to be 3.8 m2 per dung pat. Since actual grazing over 6 weeks would result in the deposition of about 300 dung pats per ha, it is estimated that a surface area of 1140 m2 or about 11% of the total grazing area can be influenced by dung pats in a given grazing period. Conclusions This study showed that the presence of dung pats in pastures creates temporary hot spots in spatial earthworm species distribution, which changes over time. The findings highlight the importance of considering dung pats, temporally and spatially, when sampling earthworms in grazed pastures. Published comparisons of grazed and cut grasslands probably reached incorrect conclusions by ignoring or deliberately avoiding dung pats. Furthermore, the observed intense aggregation of earthworms beneath dung pats suggests that earthworm functions need to be assessed separately at these hot spots.
  • A radiographic measurement of left atrial size in dogs

    Sánchez Salguero, Xavier; Prandi, David; Llabrés-Díaz, Francisco; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Bussadori, Claudio (Biomed Central, 2018-12-17)
    Background The dimensions of the left atrium in cases with mitral regurgitation are an indirect measurement of its severity. The objective of this study was to evaluate the value of a new radiographic measurement, the radiographic left atrial dimension (RLAD), for detecting left atrial enlargement (LAE) in dogs. Thirty one dogs without LAE and 46 dogs with LAE were recruited in a prospective fashion. Reference left atrium dimension was measured by standard left atrium to aorta ratio (LA/Ao) by 2D echocardiography. LAE was considered if LA/Ao > 1.6. Left atrium dimension was then quantified on lateral radiographs by measuring RLAD. Vertebral heart size (VHS) was measured and RLAD was obtained by drawing a line bisecting the 90 degrees angle defined by the long and short cardiac axes lines of the VHS, up to the dorsal edge of the left atrium and comparing its length to T4’s vertebral body length. The correlation of VHS and RLAD methods with LA/Ao was estimated, as well as their sensitivity and specificity for detecting LAE. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves were used to estimate the optimal decision criteria for each method. Results A positive correlation was observed between RLAD and LA/Ao (r = 0.82). RLAD’s sensitivity and specificity for detecting LAE when evaluated at the optimal cut-off value, 1.8 vertebrae, were 93.5 and 96.8% respectively. RLAD showed high reproducibility and repeatability. Conclusion RLAD appears to be a clinically useful radiographic measurement for evaluating left atrial dimensions. RLAD would provide clinicians with a simple and cost-effective tool for evaluating and monitoring LAE.
  • Exploring the roles of and interactions among microbes in dry co-digestion of food waste and pig manure using high-throughput 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing

    Jiang, Yan; Dennehy, Conor; Lawlor, Peadar G; Hu, Zhenhu; McCabe, Matthew; Cormican, Paul; Zhan, Xinmin; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Green Farm project; Natural Science Foundation of China; et al. (Biomed Central, 2019-01-04)
    Background With the increasing global population and increasing demand for food, the generation of food waste and animal manure increases. Anaerobic digestion is one of the best available technologies for food waste and pig manure management by producing methane-rich biogas. Dry co-digestion of food waste and pig manure can significantly reduce the reactor volume, capital cost, heating energy consumption and the cost of digestate liquid management. It is advantageous over mono-digestion of food waste or pig manure due to the balanced carbon/nitrogen ratio, high pH buffering capacity, and provision of trace elements. However, few studies have been carried out to study the roles of and interactions among microbes in dry anaerobic co-digestion systems. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the effects of different inocula (finished digestate and anaerobic sludge taken from wastewater treatment plants) and substrate compositions (food waste to pig manure ratios of 50:50 and 75:25 in terms of volatile solids) on the microbial community structure in food waste and pig manure dry co-digestion systems, and to examine the possible roles of the previously poorly described bacteria and the interactions among dry co-digestion-associated microbes. Results The dry co-digestion experiment lasted for 120 days. The microbial profile during different anaerobic digestion stages was explored using high-throughput 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. It was found that the inoculum factor was more significant in determining the microbial community structure than the substrate composition factor. Significant correlation was observed between the relative abundance of specific microbial taxa and digesters’ physicochemical parameters. Hydrogenotrophic methanogens dominated in dry co-digestion systems. Conclusions The possible roles of specific microbial taxa were explored by correlation analysis, which were consistent with the literature. Based on this, the anaerobic digestion-associated roles of 11 bacteria, which were previously poorly understood, were estimated here for the first time. The inoculum played a more important role in determining the microbial community structure than substrate composition in dry co-digestion systems. Hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis was a significant methane production pathway in dry co-digestion systems.
  • Comparison of the salivary and dentinal microbiome of children with severe-early childhood caries to the salivary microbiome of caries-free children

    Hurley, Eimear; Barrett, Maurice; Kinirons, Martin; Whelton, Helen; Ryan, C. Anthony; Stanton, Catherine; Harris, Hugh; O'Toole, Paul W.; Health Research Board; HRA_POR/2012/123 (Biomed Central, 2019-01-14)
    Background The main objectives of this study were to describe and compare the microbiota of 1) deep dentinal lesions of deciduous teeth of children affected with severe early childhood caries (S-ECC) and 2) the unstimulated saliva of these children and 3) the unstimulated saliva of caries-free children, and to compare microbiota compositional differences and diversity of taxa in these sampled sites. Methods Children with S-ECC and without S-ECC were recruited. The saliva of all children with and without S-ECC was sampled along with the deep dentinal microbiota from children affected by S-ECC. The salivary microbiota of children affected by S-ECC (n = 68) was compared to that of caries-free children (n = 70), by Illumina MiSeq sequencing of 16S rRNA amplicons. Finally, the caries microbiota of deep dentinal lesions of those children with S-ECC was investigated. Results Using two beta diversity metrics (Bray Curtis dissimilarity and UniFrac distance), the caries microbiota was found to be distinct from that of either of the saliva groups (caries-free & caries-active) when bacterial abundance was taken into account. However, when the comparison was made by measuring only presence and absence of bacterial taxa, all three microbiota types separated. While the alpha diversity of the caries microbiota was lowest, the diversity difference between the caries samples and saliva samples was statistically significant (p < 0.001). The major phyla of the caries active dentinal microbiota were Firmicutes (median abundance value 33.5%) and Bacteroidetes (23.2%), with Neisseria (10.3%) being the most abundant genus, followed by Prevotella (10%). The caries-active salivary microbiota was dominated by Proteobacteria (median abundance value 38.2%) and Bacteroidetes (27.8%) with the most abundant genus being Neisseria (16.3%), followed by Porphyromonas (9.5%). Caries microbiota samples were characterized by high relative abundance of Streptococcus mutans, Prevotella spp., Bifidobacterium and Scardovia spp. Conclusions Distinct differences between the caries microbiota and saliva microbiota were identified, with separation of both salivary groups (caries-active and caries-free) whereby rare taxa were highlighted. While the caries microbiota was less diverse than the salivary microbiota, the presence of these rare taxa could be the difference between health and disease in these children.
  • 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.
  • Effect of supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and/or β-glucans on performance, feeding behaviour and immune status of Holstein Friesian bull calves during the pre- and post-weaning periods

    McDonnell, Ruairi P; O'Doherty, John V.; Earley, Bernadette; Clarke, Anne Marie; Kenny, David A.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Science Foundation Ireland; 14/IA/2548 (Biomed Central, 2019-01-29)
    Background Previous research in both calves and other species has suggested n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and β-glucans may have positive effects on immune function. This experiment measured performance, behaviour, metabolite and immunological responses to pre-weaning supplementation of dairy bull calves with n-3 PUFA in the form of fish oil and β-glucans derived from seaweed extract. 44 Holstein Friesian bull calves, aged 13.7 ± 2.5 d and weighing 48.0 ± 5.8 kg were artificially reared using an electronic feeding system. Each calf was offered 5 L (120 g/L) per day of milk replacer (MR) and assigned to one of four treatments included in the MR, (1) Control (CON); (2) 40 g n-3 PUFA per day (FO); (3) 1 g β-glucans per day (GL) and (4) 40 g n-3 PUFA per day & 1 g/d β-glucans (FOGL) in a 2 × 2 factorial design. Milk replacer and concentrate was offered from d 0–62 (pre-weaning), while concentrate provision continued for a further 31 d post-weaning period. Individual daily feed intake and feeding behaviour was recorded throughout, while bodyweight and blood analyte data were collected at regular intervals. Results Overall mean concentrate DMI from d 0–93 was 1.39, 1.27, 1.00 and 0.72 kg/d for CON, FO, GL and FOGL calves, respectively (SEM = 0.037; P < 0.0001). Calves supplemented with GL were significantly lighter (P < 0.0001) at both weaning (d 62) and turnout to pasture (d 93) than un-supplemented calves, with a similar effect (P < 0.0001) evident for calves receiving FO compared to un-supplemented contemporaries. Supplementation with GL reduced the number of unrewarded visits where milk was not consumed (P < 0.0001) while supplementation with FO increased mean drinking speed (P < 0.0001). Supplementation with GL resulted in greater concentrations of haptoglobin (P = 0.034), greater serum osmolality (P = 0.021) and lower lymphocyte levels (P = 0.027). In addition, cells from GL supplemented calves exhibited a lower response than un-supplemented contemporaries to both Phytohaemagglutinin A stimulated IFN-γ (P = 0.019) and Concanavalin A stimulated IFN-γ (P = 0.012) following in vitro challenges. Conclusions Pre-weaning supplementation of bull calves with either n-3 PUFA or β-glucan resulted in reduced voluntary feed intake of concentrate and consequently poorer pre-weaning calf performance. There was no evidence for any beneficial effect of either supplementation strategy on calves’ immune responses.
  • Choice of assembly software has a critical impact on virome characterisation

    Sutton, Thomas D S; Clooney, Adam G; Ryan, Feargal J; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Science Foundation Ireland; European Regional Development Fund; Janssen Biotech, Inc.; SFI/12/RC/2273; SFI/14/SP APC/B3032 (Biomed Central, 2019-01-28)
    Background The viral component of microbial communities plays a vital role in driving bacterial diversity, facilitating nutrient turnover and shaping community composition. Despite their importance, the vast majority of viral sequences are poorly annotated and share little or no homology to reference databases. As a result, investigation of the viral metagenome (virome) relies heavily on de novo assembly of short sequencing reads to recover compositional and functional information. Metagenomic assembly is particularly challenging for virome data, often resulting in fragmented assemblies and poor recovery of viral community members. Despite the essential role of assembly in virome analysis and difficulties posed by these data, current assembly comparisons have been limited to subsections of virome studies or bacterial datasets. Design This study presents the most comprehensive virome assembly comparison to date, featuring 16 metagenomic assembly approaches which have featured in human virome studies. Assemblers were assessed using four independent virome datasets, namely, simulated reads, two mock communities, viromes spiked with a known phage and human gut viromes. Results Assembly performance varied significantly across all test datasets, with SPAdes (meta) performing consistently well. Performance of MIRA and VICUNA varied, highlighting the importance of using a range of datasets when comparing assembly programs. It was also found that while some assemblers addressed the challenges of virome data better than others, all assemblers had limitations. Low read coverage and genomic repeats resulted in assemblies with poor genome recovery, high degrees of fragmentation and low-accuracy contigs across all assemblers. These limitations must be considered when setting thresholds for downstream analysis and when drawing conclusions from virome data.
  • Estrogen-mediated gut microbiome alterations influence sexual dimorphism in metabolic syndrome in mice

    Kaliannan, Kanakaraju; Robertson, Ruairi C; Murphy, Kiera; Stanton, Catherine; Kang, Chao; Wang, Bin; Hao, Lei; Bhan, Atul K; Kang, Jing X; Sansun Life Sciences; et al. (Biomed Central, 2018-11-13)
    Background Understanding the mechanism of the sexual dimorphism in susceptibility to obesity and metabolic syndrome (MS) is important for the development of effective interventions for MS. Results Here we show that gut microbiome mediates the preventive effect of estrogen (17β-estradiol) on metabolic endotoxemia (ME) and low-grade chronic inflammation (LGCI), the underlying causes of MS and chronic diseases. The characteristic profiles of gut microbiome observed in female and 17β-estradiol-treated male and ovariectomized mice, such as decreased Proteobacteria and lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis, were associated with a lower susceptibility to ME, LGCI, and MS in these animals. Interestingly, fecal microbiota-transplant from male mice transferred the MS phenotype to female mice, while antibiotic treatment eliminated the sexual dimorphism in MS, suggesting a causative role of the gut microbiome in this condition. Moreover, estrogenic compounds such as isoflavones exerted microbiome-modulating effects similar to those of 17β-estradiol and reversed symptoms of MS in the male mice. Finally, both expression and activity of intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP), a gut microbiota-modifying non-classical anti-microbial peptide, were upregulated by 17β-estradiol and isoflavones, whereas inhibition of IAP induced ME and LGCI in female mice, indicating a critical role of IAP in mediating the effects of estrogen on these parameters. Conclusions In summary, we have identified a previously uncharacterized microbiome-based mechanism that sheds light upon sexual dimorphism in the incidence of MS and that suggests novel therapeutic targets and strategies for the management of obesity and MS in males and postmenopausal women.
  • Perinatal immuno/inflammatory responses in the presence or absence of bovine fetal infection

    Jawor, Paulina; Mee, John F; Stefaniak, Tadeusz; The National Centre for Research and Development; PBS2/A8/20/2013 (Biomed Central, 2018-11-01)
    Background It is known that the bovine fetus can mount an immune and inflammatory reaction to infection, but it is not known whether there is a contemporaneous maternal response. Nor is it known whether the response of calves which die perinatally, with or without infection, differs from that of live perinates. Hence, the objective of this study was to determine if acute phase reactant and immunoglobulin concentrations differed between calves (and their dams) in three groups: live calves (CC; n = 21) and dead calves with (PM INF+; n = 22) or without (PM INF-; n = 89) in utero infection. In calf plasma, serum amyloid A, haptoglobin, immunoglobulins M, G1 and G2 and interleukin-6 were measured. In dam serum, SAA and Hp was measured and in amniotic and abomasal fluid, IL-6 was measured. Results Live calves had higher plasma concentrations of SAA and IL-6 than dead calves with (PM INF+) or without (PM INF-) in utero infection. Calves in the PM INF-, but not PM INF+ group, had higher Hp concentrations than calves in the CC group. Calves in the PM INF+ group had higher IgG1 concentrations than calves in the PM INF- and CC groups. Except for higher IgG1 and IgG2 concentrations, biomarker values did not differ significantly between dead calves with or without in utero infection. Live calves had higher IL-6 concentrations in abomasal fluid compared to PM INF- calves. There were no significant differences in blood biomarker concentrations between dams of the three groups of calves. Amniotic fluid IL-6 concentrations were higher from the dams of control calves than the dams of uninfected calves. Conclusions Differences in biomarkers (higher Hp and IgG1; lower SAA and IL-6) between perinatal mortalities and live perinates probably reflect differences between these two groups in age at sampling (SAA and IL-6) and in utero infection (IgG1). Out of the six analytes measured in calves, only IgG1 and IgG2 were biomarkers of (chronic) in utero infection.
  • Correction to: Residual feed intake phenotype and gender affect the expression of key genes of the lipogenesis pathway in subcutaneous adipose tissue of beef cattle

    McKenna, Clare; Porter, Richard K; Keogh, Kate; Waters, Sinead M.; McGee, Mark; Kenny, David A.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2018-11-07)
    In the original publication of this article [1], some errors in Table 4 need to be corrected as below:
  • RNA-seq of muscle from pigs divergent in feed efficiency and product quality identifies differences in immune response, growth, and macronutrient and connective tissue metabolism

    Horodyska, Justyna; Wimmers, Klaus; Reyer, Henry; Trakooljul, Nares; Mullen, Anne Maria; Lawlor, Peadar G; Hamill, Ruth M; European Union; 311794 (Biomed Central, 2018-11-01)
    Background Feed efficiency (FE) is an indicator of efficiency in converting energy and nutrients from feed into a tissue that is of major environmental and economic significance. The molecular mechanisms contributing to differences in FE are not fully elucidated, therefore the objective of this study was to profile the porcine Longissimus thoracis et lumborum (LTL) muscle transcriptome, examine the product quality from pigs divergent in FE and investigate the functional networks underpinning the potential relationship between product quality and FE. Results RNA-Seq (n = 16) and product quality (n = 40) analysis were carried out in the LTL of pigs differing in FE status. A total of 272 annotated genes were differentially expressed with a P < 0.01. Functional annotation revealed a number of biological events related to immune response, growth, carbohydrate & lipid metabolism and connective tissue indicating that these might be the key mechanisms governing differences in FE. Five most significant bio-functions altered in FE groups were ‘haematological system development & function’, ‘lymphoid tissue structure & development’, ‘tissue morphology’, ‘cellular movement’ and ‘immune cell trafficking’. Top significant canonical pathways represented among the differentially expressed genes included ‘IL-8 signalling’, ‘leukocyte extravasation signalling, ‘sphingosine-1-phosphate signalling’, ‘PKCθ signalling in T lymphocytes’ and ‘fMLP signalling in neutrophils’. A minor impairment in the quality of meat, in relation to texture and water-holding capacity, produced by high-FE pigs was observed. High-FE pigs also had reduced intramuscular fat content and improved nutritional profile in terms of fatty acid composition. Conclusions Ontology analysis revealed enhanced activity of adaptive immunity and phagocytes in high-FE pigs suggesting more efficient conserving of resources, which can be utilised for other important biological processes. Shifts in carbohydrate conversion into glucose in FE-divergent muscle may underpin the divergent evolution of pH profile in meat from the FE-groups. Moreover, altered amino acid metabolism and increased mobilisation & flux of calcium may influence growth in FE-divergent muscle. Furthermore, decreased degradation of fibroblasts in FE-divergent muscle could impact on collagen turnover and alter tenderness of meat, whilst enhanced lipid degradation in high-FE pigs may potentially underlie a more efficient fat metabolism in these animals.
  • Improved detection of biomarkers in cervico-vaginal mucus (CVM) from postpartum cattle

    Adnane, Mounir; Kelly, Paul M; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Meade, Kieran G; O'Farrelly, Cliona; The Algerian Ministry for High Education and Scientific Research; University of Tiaret, Algeria; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; ofarrecl-HRB-HRA_POR/2012/37; 13/S/472 (Biomed Central, 2018-09-29)
    Background In the postpartum cow, early diagnosis of uterine disease is currently problematic due to the lack of reliable, non-invasive diagnostic methods. Cervico-vaginal mucus (CVM) is an easy to collect potentially informative source of biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of uterine disease in cows. Here, we report an improved method for processing CVM from postpartum dairy cows for the measurement of immune biomarkers. CVM samples were collected from the vagina using gloved hand during the first two weeks postpartum and processed with buffer alone or buffer containing different concentrations of the reducing agents recommended in standard protocols: Dithiothriotol (DTT) or N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC). Total protein was measured using the bicinchoninic acid (BCA) assay; interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-8 and α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) were measured by ELISA. Results We found that use of reducing agents to liquefy CVM affects protein yield and the accuracy of biomarker detection. Our improved protocol results in lower protein yields but improved detection of cytokines and chemokines. Using our modified method to measure AGP in CVM we found raised levels of AGP at seven days postpartum in CVM from cows that went on to develop endometritis. Conclusion We conclude that processing CVM without reducing agents improves detection of biomarkers that reflect uterine health in cattle. We propose that measurement of AGP in CVM during the first week postpartum may identify cows at risk of developing clinical endometritis.
  • 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.
  • Residual feed intake phenotype and gender affect the expression of key genes of the lipogenesis pathway in subcutaneous adipose tissue of beef cattle

    McKenna, Clare; Porter, Richard K; Keogh, Kate; Waters, Sinead M.; McGee, Mark; Kenny, David A.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2018-09-20)
    Background Feed accounts for up to 75% of costs in beef production systems, thus any improvement in feed efficiency (FE) will benefit the profitability of this enterprise. Residual feed intake (RFI) is a measure of FE that is independent of level of production. Adipose tissue (AT) is a major endocrine organ and the primary metabolic energy reservoir. It modulates a variety of processes related to FE such as lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis and thus measures of inter-animal variation in adiposity are frequently included in the calculation of the RFI index. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of phenotypic RFI status and gender on the expression of key candidate genes related to processes involved in energy metabolism within AT. Dry matter intake (DMI) and average daily gain (ADG) were measured over a period of 70 d for 52 purebred Simmental heifers (n = 24) and bulls (n = 28) with an initial BW±SD of 372±39.6 kg and 387±50.6 kg, respectively. Residual feed intake was calculated and animals were ranked within gender by RFI into high (inefficient; n = 9 heifers and n = 8 bulls) and low (efficient; n = 9 heifers and n = 8 bulls) groups. Results Average daily gain ±SD and daily DMI ±SD for heifers and bulls were 1.2±0.4 kg and 9.1±0.5 kg, and 1.8±0.3 kg and 9.5±1 kg respectively. High RFI heifers and bulls consumed 10% and 15% more (P < 0.05) than their low RFI counterparts, respectively. Heifers had a higher expression of all genes measured than bulls (P < 0.05). A gender × RFI interaction was detected for HMGCS2(P < 0.05) in which high RFI bulls tended to have lower expression of HMGCS2 than low RFI bulls (P < 0.1), whereas high RFI heifers had higher expression than low RFI heifers (P < 0.05) and high RFI bulls (P < 0.05). SLC2A4 expression was consistently higher in subcutaneous AT of low RFI animals across gender. Conclusion The findings of this study indicate that low RFI cattle exhibit upregulation of the molecular mechanisms governing glucose metabolism in adipose tissue, in particular, glucose clearance. The decreased expression of SLC2A4 in the inefficient cattle may result in less efficient glucose metabolism in these animals. We conclude that SLC2A4 may be a potential biomarker for RFI in cattle.
  • Culicoides species composition and abundance on Irish cattle farms: implications for arboviral disease transmission

    Collins, Áine B; Mee, John F; Doherty, Michael L.; Barrett, Damien; England, Marion E; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2018-08-17)
    Background Following the emergence of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) in Ireland in 2012, a sentinel herd surveillance program was established in the south of Ireland with the primary aim of investigating the species composition and abundance of Culicoides on livestock farms in the region. Methods Ultraviolet-light trapping for Culicoides was carried out on 10 sentinel farms. Each site was sampled fortnightly over 16 weeks (21st July to 5th November 2014). One Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute UV light trap was run overnight at each site and catches were transferred immediately into 70% ethanol. Culicoides were morphologically identified to species level. Collection site habitats were characterised using the Phase 1 habitat survey technique (Joint Nature Conservation Committee). Results A total of 23,929 individual Culicoides from 20 species was identified, including one species identified in Ireland for the first time, Culicoides cameroni. The most abundant species identified were Culicoides obsoletus/Culicoides scoticus (38%), Culicoides dewulfi (36%), Culicoides pulicaris (9%), Culicoides chiopterus (5%) and Culicoides punctatus (5%), comprising 93% of all Culicoides specimens identified. Collection site habitats were dominated by improved grassland and a combination of broadleaf woodland and native woodland species. Conclusions The most abundant species of Culicoides identified were the putative vectors of bluetongue virus (BTV) and SBV in northern Europe. Their presence and abundance demonstrates the potential for future transmission of arboviruses among livestock in this region.
  • Gene-trait matching across the Bifidobacterium longum pan-genome reveals considerable diversity in carbohydrate catabolism among human infant strains

    Arboleya, Silvia; Bottacini, Francesca; O'Connell-Motherway, Mary; Ryan, C. Anthony; Ross, R Paul; van Sinderen, Douwe; Stanton, Catherine; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273; et al. (Biomed Central, 08/01/2018)
    Background Bifidobacterium longum is a common member of the human gut microbiota and is frequently present at high numbers in the gut microbiota of humans throughout life, thus indicative of a close symbiotic host-microbe relationship. Different mechanisms may be responsible for the high competitiveness of this taxon in its human host to allow stable establishment in the complex and dynamic intestinal microbiota environment. The objective of this study was to assess the genetic and metabolic diversity in a set of 20 B. longum strains, most of which had previously been isolated from infants, by performing whole genome sequencing and comparative analysis, and to analyse their carbohydrate utilization abilities using a gene-trait matching approach. Results We analysed their pan-genome and their phylogenetic relatedness. All strains clustered in the B. longum ssp. longum phylogenetic subgroup, except for one individual strain which was found to cluster in the B. longum ssp. suis phylogenetic group. The examined strains exhibit genomic diversity, while they also varied in their sugar utilization profiles. This allowed us to perform a gene-trait matching exercise enabling the identification of five gene clusters involved in the utilization of xylo-oligosaccharides, arabinan, arabinoxylan, galactan and fucosyllactose, the latter of which is an abundant human milk oligosaccharide (HMO). Conclusions The results showed high diversity in terms of genes and predicted glycosyl-hydrolases, as well as the ability to metabolize a large range of sugars. Moreover, we corroborate the capability of B. longum ssp. longum to metabolise HMOs. Ultimately, their intraspecific genomic diversity and the ability to consume a wide assortment of carbohydrates, ranging from plant-derived carbohydrates to HMOs, may provide an explanation for the competitive advantage and persistence of B. longum in the human gut microbiome.
  • Effect of early calf-hood nutrition on the transcriptomic profile of subcutaneous adipose tissue in Holstein-Friesian bulls

    English, Anne-Marie; Waters, Sinead M.; Cormican, Paul; Byrne, Colin J; Fair, Seán; Kenny, David A.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Irish Research Council; 11/S/116; GOIPG/2013/1391 (Biomed Central, 2018-04-24)
    Background Adipose tissue is a major endocrine organ and is thought to play a central role in the metabolic control of reproductive function in cattle. Plane of nutrition during early life has been shown to influence the timing of puberty in both male and female cattle, though the exact biological mechanisms involved are currently unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of early calf-hood nutrition on the transcriptomic profile of subcutaneous adipose tissue in Holstein-Friesian bulls to identify possible downstream effects on reproductive physiology. Results Holstein-Friesian bull calves with a mean (±S.D.) age and bodyweight of 19 (±8.2) days and 47.5 (±5.3) kg, respectively, were assigned to either a high (n = 10) or low (n = 10) plane of nutrition. Calves were fed in order to achieve an overall growth rate of 1.08 and 0.57 kg/day for the high and low plane of nutrition treatments, respectively. At 126 days of age, the bulls were euthanized, subcutaneous adipose tissue samples were harvested and RNAseq analysis was performed. There were 674 genes differentially expressed in adipose tissue of calves on the low compared with the high plane of nutrition (P < 0.05; FDR < 0.05; fold change > 2.0). High plane of nutrition positively altered the expression of genes across an array of putative biological processes but the most dominant cellular processes affected were cellular energy production and branched chain amino acid degradation. A high plane of nutrition caused upregulation of genes such as leptin (LEP) and adiponectin (ADIPOQ), which are known to directly affect reproductive function. Conclusions These results provide an insight into the effect of augmenting the plane of nutrition of Holstein-Friesian bull calves in the prepubertal period on the transcriptome of adipose tissue.
  • Genomic prediction of crown rust resistance in Lolium perenne

    Arojju, Sai Krishna; Conaghan, P.; Barth, Susanne; Milbourne, Dan; Casler, M.D.; Hodkinson, Trevor R; Michel, Thibauld; Byrne, Stephen L.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Marie Sklodowska-Curie; et al. (Biomed Central, 29/05/2018)
    Background Genomic selection (GS) can accelerate genetic gains in breeding programmes by reducing the time it takes to complete a cycle of selection. Puccinia coronata f. sp lolli (crown rust) is one of the most widespread diseases of perennial ryegrass and can lead to reductions in yield, persistency and nutritional value. Here, we used a large perennial ryegrass population to assess the accuracy of using genome wide markers to predict crown rust resistance and to investigate the factors affecting predictive ability. Results Using these data, predictive ability for crown rust resistance in the complete population reached a maximum of 0.52. Much of the predictive ability resulted from the ability of markers to capture genetic relationships among families within the training set, and reducing the marker density had little impact on predictive ability. Using permutation based variable importance measure and genome wide association studies (GWAS) to identify and rank markers enabled the identification of a small subset of SNPs that could achieve predictive abilities close to those achieved using the complete marker set. Conclusion Using a GWAS to identify and rank markers enabled a small panel of markers to be identified that could achieve higher predictive ability than the same number of randomly selected markers, and predictive abilities close to those achieved with the entire marker set. This was particularly evident in a sub-population characterised by having on-average higher genome-wide linkage disequilibirum (LD). Higher predictive abilities with selected markers over random markers suggests they are in LD with QTL. Accuracy due to genetic relationships will decay rapidly over generations whereas accuracy due to LD will persist, which is advantageous for practical breeding applications.
  • Prevalence of welfare outcomes in the weaner and finisher stages of the production cycle on 31 Irish pig farms

    van Staaveren, Nienke; Calderón Díaz, Julia A.; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Hanlon, A.; Boyle, Laura; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/S/107 (Biomed Central, 2018-03-27)
    Background Knowledge on the most prevalent welfare problems for pigs in different production stages is required to improve herd management plans. Thirty-one farrow-to-finish pig farms were visited between July and November 2015 to assess the welfare of pigs using the multicriteria approach of the Welfare Quality® protocol. On each farm, 6 pens were selected using proportionate stratified sampling in the first weaner (S1, 4 to 8 wks), second weaner (S2, 8 to 13 wks) and finisher stage (S3, 13 to 23 wks), excluding hospital pens. Each pen was observed for 10 min and the number of pigs affected by different welfare outcomes was recorded. The percentage of pigs affected was calculated and ranked to identify the most prevalent outcomes within each production stage. Differences between production stages were analysed using generalised linear mixed models for binomial data with pen within stage and farm as a random effect. Results Tail and ear lesions showed the highest prevalence; however, large variation was observed between farms. In S1 the most prevalent welfare outcomes (presented as median prevalence) were poor body condition (4.4%), lethargic pigs (1.5%), scouring (20.3% of pens) and huddling (3.7%). In S2 and S3 outcomes related to injurious behaviour (tail lesions: 5.9% [S2] and 10.5% [S3], ear lesions: 9.1% [S2] and 3.3% [S3], and flank lesions: 0.4% [S2] and 1.3% [S3]), lameness (0.8% [S2] and 1.1% [S3]), bursitis (3.9% [S2] and 7.5% [S3]) and hernias (1.6% [S2] and 1.8% [S3]) were more prevalent. Conclusions A large variation was observed for the recorded welfare outcomes corresponding to the different challenges pigs experience during the different stages of production on commercial pig farms. The prevalence of pigs affected by lesions caused by injurious behavior is a cause for concern and requires a collaborative approach to identify appropriate intervention strategies. This information could be used to further investigate appropriate benchmark values for different welfare outcomes that would assist the pig industry to develop appropriate health and welfare management plans to minimise welfare problems. At herd level such plans should include information on aspects of intervention, treatment, and the management of hospital pens as well as euthanasia.

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