Now showing items 1-20 of 2751

    • Effect of divergence in residual methane emissions on feed intake and efficiency, growth and carcass performance, and indices of rumen fermentation and methane emissions in finishing beef cattle

      Smith, Paul E; Waters, Sinead M; Kenny, David A; Kirwan, Stuart F; Conroy, Stephen; Kelly, Alan K; FACCE ERA-GAS; European Union; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; 16/RD/ERAGAS/1RUMENPREDICT-ROI2017; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2021-10-01)
      Residual expressions of enteric emissions favor a more equitable identification of an animal’s methanogenic potential compared with traditional measures of enteric emissions. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of divergently ranking beef cattle for residual methane emissions (RME) on animal productivity, enteric emissions, and rumen fermentation. Dry matter intake (DMI), growth, feed efficiency, carcass output, and enteric emissions (GreenFeed emissions monitoring system) were recorded on 294 crossbred beef cattle (steers = 135 and heifers = 159; mean age 441 d (SD = 49); initial body weight (BW) of 476 kg (SD = 67)) at the Irish national beef cattle performance test center. Animals were offered a total mixed ration (77% concentrate and 23% forage; 12.6 MJ ME/kg of DM and 12% CP) ad libitum with emissions estimated for 21 d over a mean feed intake measurement period of 91 d. Animals had a mean daily methane emissions (DME) of 229.18 g/d (SD = 45.96), methane yield (MY) of 22.07 g/kg of DMI (SD = 4.06), methane intensity (MI) 0.70 g/kg of carcass weight (SD = 0.15), and RME 0.00 g/d (SD = 0.34). RME was computed as the residuals from a multiple regression model regressing DME on DMI and BW (R2 = 0.45). Animals were ranked into three groups namely high RME (>0.5 SD above the mean), medium RME (±0.5 SD above/below the mean), and low RME (>0.5 SD below the mean). Low RME animals produced 17.6% and 30.4% less (P < 0.05) DME compared with medium and high RME animals, respectively. A ~30% reduction in MY and MI was detected in low versus high RME animals. Positive correlations were apparent among all methane traits with RME most highly associated with (r = 0.86) DME. MY and MI were correlated (P < 0.05) with DMI, growth, feed efficiency, and carcass output. High RME had lower (P < 0.05) ruminal propionate compared with low RME animals and increased (P < 0.05) butyrate compared with medium and low RME animals. Propionate was negatively associated (P < 0.05) with all methane traits. Greater acetate:propionate ratio was associated with higher RME (r = 0.18; P < 0.05). Under the ad libitum feeding regime deployed here, RME was the best predictor of DME and only methane trait independent of animal productivity. Ranking animals on RME presents the opportunity to exploit interanimal variation in enteric emissions as well as providing a more equitable index of the methanogenic potential of an animal on which to investigate the underlying biological regulatory mechanisms.
    • Multiclonal human origin and global expansion of an endemic bacterial pathogen of livestock

      Yebra, Gonzalo; Harling-Lee, Joshua D.; Lycett, Samantha; Aarestrup, Frank M.; Larsen, Gunhild; Cavaco, Lina M.; Seo, Keun Seok; Abraham, Sam; Norris, Jacqueline M.; Schmidt, Tracy; et al. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022-12-05)
      Most new pathogens of humans and animals arise via switching events from distinct host species. However, our understanding of the evolutionary and ecological drivers of successful host adaptation, expansion, and dissemination are limited. Staphylococcus aureus is a major bacterial pathogen of humans and a leading cause of mastitis in dairy cows worldwide. Here we trace the evolutionary history of bovine S. aureus using a global dataset of 10,254 S. aureus genomes including 1,896 bovine isolates from 32 countries in 6 continents. We identified 7 major contemporary endemic clones of S. aureus causing bovine mastitis around the world and traced them back to 4 independent host-jump events from humans that occurred up to 2,500 y ago. Individual clones emerged and underwent clonal expansion from the mid-19th to late 20th century coinciding with the commercialization and industrialization of dairy farming, and older lineages have become globally distributed via established cattle trade links. Importantly, we identified lineage-dependent differences in the frequency of host transmission events between humans and cows in both directions revealing high risk clones threatening veterinary and human health. Finally, pangenome network analysis revealed that some bovine S. aureus lineages contained distinct sets of bovine-associated genes, consistent with multiple trajectories to host adaptation via gene acquisition. Taken together, we have dissected the evolutionary history of a major endemic pathogen of livestock providing a comprehensive temporal, geographic, and gene-level perspective of its remarkable success.
    • Bioinformatic approaches for studying the microbiome of fermented food

      Walsh, Liam H.; Coakley, Mairéad; Walsh, Aaron M.; O’Toole, Paul W.; Cotter, Paul; European Union; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Enterprise Ireland; 818368; et al. (Informa UK Limited, 2022-10-26)
      High-throughput DNA sequencing-based approaches continue to revolutionise our understanding of microbial ecosystems, including those associated with fermented foods. Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches are state-of-the-art biological profiling methods and are employed to investigate a wide variety of characteristics of microbial communities, such as taxonomic membership, gene content and the range and level at which these genes are expressed. Individual groups and consortia of researchers are utilising these approaches to produce increasingly large and complex datasets, representing vast populations of microorganisms. There is a corresponding requirement for the development and application of appropriate bioinformatic tools and pipelines to interpret this data. This review critically analyses the tools and pipelines that have been used or that could be applied to the analysis of metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data from fermented foods. In addition, we critically analyse a number of studies of fermented foods in which these tools have previously been applied, to highlight the insights that these approaches can provide.
    • Transcriptome characterization and differentially expressed genes under flooding and drought stress in the biomass grasses Phalaris arundinacea and Dactylis glomerata

      Klaas, Manfred; Haiminen, Niina; Grant, Jim; Cormican, Paul; Finnan, John; Arojju, Sai Krishna; Utro, Filippo; Vellani, Tia; Parida, Laxmi; Barth, Susanne; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019-06-26)
      Background and Aims Perennial grasses are a global resource as forage, and for alternative uses in bioenergy and as raw materials for the processing industry. Marginal lands can be valuable for perennial biomass grass production, if perennial biomass grasses can cope with adverse abiotic environmental stresses such as drought and waterlogging. Methods In this study, two perennial grass species, reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata) were subjected to drought and waterlogging stress to study their responses for insights to improving environmental stress tolerance. Physiological responses were recorded, reference transcriptomes established and differential gene expression investigated between control and stress conditions. We applied a robust non-parametric method, RoDEO, based on rank ordering of transcripts to investigate differential gene expression. Furthermore, we extended and validated vRoDEO for comparing samples with varying sequencing depths. Key Results This allowed us to identify expressed genes under drought and waterlogging whilst using only a limited number of RNA sequencing experiments. Validating the methodology, several differentially expressed candidate genes involved in the stage 3 step-wise scheme in detoxification and degradation of xenobiotics were recovered, while several novel stress-related genes classified as of unknown function were discovered. Conclusions Reed canary grass is a species coping particularly well with flooding conditions, but this study adds novel information on how its transcriptome reacts under drought stress. We built extensive transcriptomes for the two investigated C3 species cocksfoot and reed canary grass under both extremes of water stress to provide a clear comparison amongst the two species to broaden our horizon for comparative studies, but further confirmation of the data would be ideal to obtain a more detailed picture.
    • Deficiency of essential dietary n-3 PUFA disrupts the caecal microbiome and metabolome in mice

      Robertson, Ruairi C.; Seira Oriach, Clara; Murphy, Kiera; Moloney, Gerard M.; Cryan, John F.; Dinan, Timothy G.; Ross, R. P.; Stanton, Catherine; Science Foundation Ireland; Health Research Board of Ireland; et al. (Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2017-11-27)
      n-3 PUFA are lipids that play crucial roles in immune-regulation, cardio-protection and neurodevelopment. However, little is known about the role that these essential dietary fats play in modulating caecal microbiota composition and the subsequent production of functional metabolites. To investigate this, female C57BL/6 mice were assigned to one of three diets (control (CON), n-3 supplemented (n3+) or n-3 deficient (n3−)) during gestation, following which their male offspring were continued on the same diets for 12 weeks. Caecal content of mothers and offspring were collected for 16S sequencing and metabolic phenotyping. n3− male offspring displayed significantly less % fat mass than n3+ and CON. n-3 Status also induced a number of changes to gut microbiota composition such that n3− offspring had greater abundance of Tenericutes, Anaeroplasma and Coriobacteriaceae. Metabolomics analysis revealed an increase in caecal metabolites involved in energy metabolism in n3+ including α-ketoglutaric acid, malic acid and fumaric acid. n3− animals displayed significantly reduced acetate, butyrate and total caecal SCFA production. These results demonstrate that dietary n-3 PUFA regulate gut microbiota homoeostasis whereby n-3 deficiency may induce a state of disturbance. Further studies are warranted to examine whether these microbial and metabolic disturbances are causally related to changes in metabolic health outcomes.
    • An investigation of the effect of rapid slurry chilling on blown pack spoilage of vacuum-packaged beef primals

      Reid, R.; Fanning, S.; Whyte, P.; Kerry, J.; Bolton, D.; Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Ireland (Wiley, 2017-01-12)
      The aim of this study was to investigate if rapid slurry chilling would retard or prevent blown pack spoilage (BPS) of vacuum-packaged beef primals. Beef primals were inoculated with Clostridium estertheticum subspp. estertheticum (DSMZ 8809), C. estertheticum subspp. laramenise (DSMZ 14864) and C. gasigenes (DSMZ 12272), and vacuum-packaged with and without heat shrinkage (90°C for 3 s). These packs were then subjected to immediate chilling in an ice slurry or using conventional blast chilling systems and stored at 2°C for up to 100 days. The onset and progress of BPS was monitored using the following scale; 0‑no gas bubbles in drip; 1‑gas bubbles in drip; 2‑loss of vacuum; 3‑‘blown’; 4‑presence of sufficient gas inside the packs to produce pack distension and 5‑tightly stretched, ‘overblown’ packs/packs leaking. Rapid slurry chilling (as compared to conventional chilling) did not significantly affect (P > 0.05) the time to the onset or progress of BPS. It was therefore concluded that rapid chilling of vacuum-packaged beef primals, using an ice slurry system, may not be used as a control intervention to prevent or retard blown pack spoilage.
    • Real-time PCR methods for the detection of blown pack spoilage causing Clostridium species; C. estertheticum, C. gasigenes and C. ruminantium

      Reid, Rachael; Burgess, Catherine M.; McCabe, Evonne; Fanning, Séamus; Whyte, Paul; Kerry, Joe; Bolton, Declan; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Ireland); Teagasc core funding (Elsevier, 2017-11)
      A set of real-time PCR methods for the detection of C. estertheticum, C. gasigenes and C. ruminantium, the causative agents of blown pack spoilage (BPS) in vacuum packaged beef, was developed. Robust validation of the sensitivity and specificity was carried out in the three matrices (beef meat drip, wet environmental swabs and dry environmental swabs) as encountered in our testing laboratory and against Clostridium strains (n = 76) and non-Clostridium strains (n = 36). It was possible to detect 4–5 spores per ml for C. estertheticum, 2 spores per ml for C. gasigenes and 8 spores per ml for C. ruminantium, without the need for enrichment of the samples. This high sensitivity is particularly important for the beef sector, not just for testing spoiled product but also in the early detection of contaminated beef and in validation of sporicidal cleaning procedures for critical pieces of equipment such as the vacuum packaging machine, which have the potential to contaminate large volumes of product.
    • Bifidobacterium breve with α-linolenic acid alters the composition, distribution and transcription factor activity associated with metabolism and absorption of fat

      Patterson, Elaine; Wall, Rebecca; Lisai, Sara; Ross, R. Paul; Dinan, Timothy G.; Cryan, John F.; Fitzgerald, Gerald F.; Banni, Sebastiano; Quigley, Eamonn M.; Shanahan, Fergus; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2017-03-07)
      This study focused on the mechanisms that fatty acid conjugating strains - Bifidobacterium breve NCIMB 702258 and Bifidobacterium breve DPC 6330 - influence lipid metabolism when ingested with α-linolenic acid (ALA) enriched diet. Four groups of BALB/c mice received ALA enriched diet (3% (w/w)) either alone or in combination with B. breve NCIMB 702258 or B. breve DPC 6330 (109 CFU/day) or unsupplemented control diet for six weeks. The overall n-3 PUFA score was increased in all groups receiving the ALA enriched diet. Hepatic peroxisomal beta oxidation increased following supplementation of the ALA enriched diet with B. breve (P < 0.05) and so the ability of the strains to produce c9t11 conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) was identified in adipose tissue. Furthermore, a strain specific effect of B. breve NCIMB 702258 was found on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Liver triglycerides (TAG) were reduced following ALA supplementation, compared with unsupplemented controls (P < 0.01) while intervention with B. breve further reduced liver TAG (P < 0.01), compared with the ALA enriched control. These data indicate that the interactions of the gut microbiota with fatty acid metabolism directly affect host health by modulating n-3 PUFA score and the ECS.
    • Draft Genome Sequences of 25 Listeria monocytogenes Isolates Associated with Human Clinical Listeriosis in Ireland

      O’Callaghan, Amy; Hilliard, Amber; Morgan, Ciara A.; Culligan, Eamonn P.; Leong, Dara; DeLappe, Niall; Hill, Colin; Jordan, Kieran; Cormican, Martin; Gahan, Cormac G. M.; et al. (American Society for Microbiology, 2017-05-11)
      Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive opportunistic pathogen that is the causative agent of listeriosis. Here, we report the draft genome sequences of 25 L. monocytogenes strains isolated from patients with clinical listeriosis in the Republic of Ireland between 2013 and 2015.
    • Impact of intrapartum antimicrobial prophylaxis upon the intestinal microbiota and the prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes in vaginally delivered full-term neonates

      Nogacka, Alicja; Salazar, Nuria; Suárez, Marta; Milani, Christian; Arboleya, Silvia; Solís, Gonzalo; Fernández, Nuria; Alaez, Lidia; Hernández-Barranco, Ana M.; de los Reyes-Gavilán, Clara G.; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2017-08-08)
      Background: Disturbances in the early establishment of the intestinal microbiota may produce important implications for the infant’s health and for the risk of disease later on. Different perinatal conditions may be affecting the development of the gut microbiota. Some of them, such as delivery mode or feeding habits, have been extensively assessed whereas others remain to be studied, being critical to identify their impact on the microbiota and, if any, to minimize it. Antibiotics are among the drugs most frequently used in early life, the use of intrapartum antimicrobial prophylaxis (IAP), present in over 30% of deliveries, being the most frequent source of exposure. However, our knowledge on the effects of IAP on the microbiota establishment is still limited. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the impact of IAP investigating a cohort of 40 full-term vaginally delivered infants born after an uncomplicated pregnancy, 18 of which were born from mothers receiving IAP. Results: Fecal samples were collected at 2, 10, 30, and 90 days of age. We analyzed the composition of the fecal microbiota during the first 3 months of life by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and quantified fecal short chain fatty acids by gas chromatography. The presence of genes for resistance to antibiotics was determined by PCR in the samples from 1-month-old infants. Our results showed an altered pattern of intestinal microbiota establishment in IAP infants during the first weeks of life, with lower relative proportions of Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes and increased of Preoteobacteria and Firmicutes. A delay in the increase on the levels of acetate was observed in IAP infants. The analyses of specific antibiotic resistance genes showed a higher occurrence of some β-lactamase coding genes in infants whose mothers received IAP. Conclusions: Our results indicate an effect of IAP on the establishing early microbiota during the first months of life, which represent a key moment for the development of the microbiota-induced host homeostasis. Understanding the impact of IAP in the gut microbiota development is essential for developing treatments to minimize it, favoring a proper gut microbiota development in IAP-exposed neonates.
    • Pathogens, patterns of pneumonia, and epidemiologic risk factors associated with respiratory disease in recently weaned cattle in Ireland

      Murray, Gerard M.; More, Simon J.; Sammin, Dónal; Casey, Mìcheàl J.; McElroy, Máire C.; O’Neill, Rónan G.; Byrne, William J.; Earley, Bernadette; Clegg, Tracy A.; Ball, Hywel; et al. (SAGE, 2017-01-11)
      We examined the pathogens, morphologic patterns, and risk factors associated with bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in 136 recently weaned cattle (“weanlings”), 6–12 mo of age, that were submitted for postmortem examination to regional veterinary laboratories in Ireland. A standardized sampling protocol included routine microbiologic investigations as well as polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. Lungs with histologic lesions were categorized into 1 of 5 morphologic patterns of pneumonia. Fibrinosuppurative bronchopneumonia (49%) and interstitial pneumonia (48%) were the morphologic patterns recorded most frequently. The various morphologic patterns of pulmonary lesions suggest the involvement of variable combinations of initiating and compounding infectious agents that hindered any simple classification of the etiopathogenesis of the pneumonias. Dual infections were detected in 58% of lungs, with Mannheimia haemolytica and Histophilus somni most frequently recorded in concert. M. haemolytica (43%) was the most frequently detected respiratory pathogen; H. somni was also shown to be frequently implicated in pneumonia in this age group of cattle. Bovine parainfluenza virus 3 (BPIV-3) and Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (16% each) were the viral agents detected most frequently. Potential respiratory pathogens (particularly Pasteurella multocida, BPIV-3, and H. somni) were frequently detected (64%) in lungs that had neither gross nor histologic pulmonary lesions, raising questions regarding their role in the pathogenesis of BRD. The breadth of respiratory pathogens detected in bovine lungs by various detection methods highlights the diagnostic value of parallel analyses in respiratory disease postmortem investigation.
    • Intervention strategies for cesarean section–induced alterations in the microbiota-gut-brain axis

      Moya-Pérez, Angela; Luczynski, Pauline; Renes, Ingrid B.; Wang, Shugui; Borre, Yuliya; Anthony Ryan, C.; Knol, Jan; STANTON, CATHERINE; Dinan, Timothy G.; Cryan, John F.; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2017-04-01)
      Microbial colonization of the gastrointestinal tract is an essential process that modulates host physiology and immunity. Recently, researchers have begun to understand how and when these microorganisms colonize the gut and the early-life factors that impact their natural ecological establishment. The vertical transmission of maternal microbes to the offspring is a critical factor for host immune and metabolic development. Increasing evidence also points to a role in the wiring of the gut-brain axis. This process may be altered by various factors such as mode of delivery, gestational age at birth, the use of antibiotics in early life, infant feeding, and hygiene practices. In fact, these early exposures that impact the intestinal microbiota have been associated with the development of diseases such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, asthma, allergies, and even neurodevelopmental disorders. The present review summarizes the impact of cesarean birth on the gut microbiome and the health status of the developing infant and discusses possible preventative and restorative strategies to compensate for early-life microbial perturbations.
    • Surgical castration with pain relief affects the health and productive performance of pigs in the suckling period

      Morales, Joaquin; Dereu, Andre; Manso, Alberto; de Frutos, Laura; Piñeiro, Carlos; Manzanilla, Edgar G.; Wuyts, Niels; Zoetis Inc. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2017-09-06)
      Background Surgical castration is still practiced in many EU countries to avoid undesirable aggressive behavior and boar taint in male pigs. However, evidence shows that castration is painful and has a detrimental influence on pig health. This study investigated the clinical and productive effects of surgical castration in the suckling period. A total of 3696 male pigs, 3 to 6 days old, comprising of 721 litters from two different farms were included in the study. Within each litter, half of the males were kept as intact males (IM) and half were surgically castrated (CM). Surgical castration was conducted by a trained farmer. Average daily gain (ADG), body weight at weaning (BWW), percentage of pre-weaning mortality (PWM) and antibiotic usage were measured. Pig major acute phase protein (PigMAP) serum concentrations were analyzed prior to castration, and on days 1 and 10 after castration. Productive performance data were analyzed using a linear mixed model. Mortality and percentage of pigs treated with antibiotics were analyzed using the Fisher’s exact test. Results No overall differences in BWW and ADG were observed between the two groups. However, differences were observed when the same effects were analyzed in the 25% lightest, 50% medium and 25% heaviest pigs at birth. PWM was higher in CM than in IM groups (6.3% vs 3.6%; p < 0.001), especially in the light (12.2% vs 6.2%; p = 0.02) and in the medium (5.5% vs 2.7%; p = 0.04) weight groups. In the heaviest pigs group PWM was not affected by castration, but IM tended to show higher ADG (p = 0.06) and showed higher BWW (8.0 kg vs 7.8 kg; p = 0.05) than CM. There were no differences in percentage of pigs treated with antibiotics between the two groups (5.8% vs 5.8%; p = 0.98) in this study. Furthermore, PigMAP was increased in CM the day after castration (0.944 mg/ml vs 0.847 mg/ml; p = 0.025), but there was no difference between CM and IM groups at day 10. Conclusions Surgical castration has a negative impact on production in the suckling period because it causes an increase in PWM, especially in pigs in the three lower quartiles for body weight, and negatively affects the BWW in pigs born in the highest quartile for body weight.
    • The transcriptome of the endometrium and placenta is associated with pregnancy development but not lactation status in dairy cows

      Moore, Stephen G.; McCabe, Matthew S.; Green, Jacob C.; Newsom, Emily M.; Lucy, Matthew C. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2017-06-19)
      Infertility in lactating dairy cows is explained partially by the metabolic state associated with high milk production. The hypothesis was that lactating and nonlactating cows would differ in endometrial and placental transcriptomes during early pregnancy (day 28 to 42) and this difference would explain the predisposition for lactating cows to have embryonic loss at that time. Cows were either milked or not milked after calving. Reproductive [endometrium (caruncular and intercaruncular) and placenta] and liver tissues were collected on day 28, 35, and 42 of pregnancy. The hypothesis was rejected because no effect of lactation on mRNA abundance within reproductive tissues was found. Large differences within liver demonstrated the utility of the model to test an effect of lactation on tissue gene expression. Major changes in gene expression in reproductive tissues across time were found. Greater activation of the transcriptome for the recruitment and activation of macrophages was found in the endometrium and placenta. Changes in glucose metabolism between day 28 and 42 included greater mRNA abundance of rate-limiting genes for gluconeogenesis in intercaruncular endometrium and evidence for the establishment of aerobic glycolysis (Warburg effect) in the placenta. Temporal changes were predicted to be controlled by CSF1, PDGFB, TGFB1, and JUN. Production of nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species by macrophages was identified as a mechanism to promote angiogenesis in the endometrium. Reported differences in pregnancy development for lactating vs. nonlactating cows could be explained by systemic glucose availability to the conceptus and appeared to be independent of the endometrial and placental transcriptomes.

      Caffrey, Máire (2022-11-27)
      Science communication scholars and Research Performing Organizations advocate public engagement (PE) by scientists. EU and Irish research funders see PE as essential to deliver the full benefits of the outputs of funded research for society. PE should be a dialogue between science and society, building trust in science. Scientists are required to participate in public engagement actions. To support and encourage this, it is necessary to characterize the PE behaviors, motivations, and perceptions of scientists. Prior studies identified motivations for, and barriers to, public engagement, and found the level and type of activity is varied. There is evidence of influences from gender, career-status, age, and discipline, but it is not conclusive. There has been little study of scientists’ perceptions of PE in Ireland. To address the knowledge gap, this study surveyed Agri-food researchers in Ireland. The survey gathered data about their participation in PE, their motivations, perceived barriers, their future PE intentions, and identified training and supports needed. The data was analyzed to establish any influences of gender, career-status, age, or discipline. The aim was to establish how organizations can support, encourage, and build public engagement. These scientists have a high level of participation in Public Engagement, with high levels of largely altruistic motivations. However, they are time-poor, and unhappy with the current situation regarding institutional support. They would like PE to be recognized in career progression processes. They need relevant training. Gender, career-status, age, and discipline all influence public engagement behaviors. There is a pronounced gender effect relating to engagement with children. Senior scientists interact more with the media. Agricultural scientists are more motivated to involve the public in their research. Research organizations must recognize and value public engagement in their career assessment processes, provide training and supply supports to encourage more participation and deeper engagement
    • Plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations associated with musculoskeletal health and incident frailty in The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)

      Murphy, Caoileann H.; Duggan, Eoin; Davis, James; O'Halloran, Aisling M.; Knight, Silvin P.; Kenny, Rose Anne; McCarthy, Sinead N.; Romero-Ortuno, Roman; Teagasc Research Leaders 2025 programme; H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2023-01)
      Introduction Lutein and zeaxanthin are diet-derived carotenoids that are proposed to help mitigate frailty risk and age-related declines in musculoskeletal health via their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the association between lutein and zeaxanthin status and indices of musculoskeletal health and incident frailty among community-dwelling adults aged ≥50 years in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA). Methods Cross-sectional analyses (n = 4513) of plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations and grip strength, usual gait speed, timed up-and-go (TUG), probable sarcopenia (defined as grip strength <27 kg in men, <16 kg in women), and bone mass (assessed using calcaneal broadband ultrasound stiffness index) were performed at Wave 1 (2009–2011; baseline). In the longitudinal analyses (n = 1425–3100), changes in usual gait speed (at Wave 3, 2014–2015), grip strength (Wave 4, 2016) and TUG (at Wave 5, 2018), incident probable sarcopenia (at Wave 4) and incident frailty (Fried's phenotype, Frailty Index, FRAIL Scale, Clinical Frailty Scale-classification tree, at Wave 5) were determined. Data were analysed using linear and ordinal logistic regression, adjusted for confounders. Results Cross-sectionally, plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations were positively associated with usual gait speed (B [95 % CI] per 100-nmol/L higher concentration: Lutein 0.59 [0.18, 1.00], Zeaxanthin 1.46 [0.37, 2.55] cm/s) and inversely associated with TUG time (Lutein −0.07 [−0.11, −0.03], Zeaxanthin −0.14 [−0.25, −0.04] s; all p < 0.01), but not with grip strength or probable sarcopenia (p > 0.05). Plasma lutein concentration was positively associated with bone stiffness index (0.54 [0.15, 0.93], p < 0.01). Longitudinally, among participants who were non-frail at Wave 1, higher plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations were associated lower odds of progressing to a higher frailty category (e.g. prefrailty or frailty) by Wave 5 (ORs 0.57–0.89, p < 0.05) based on the Fried's phenotype, FRAIL Scale and the Clinical Frailty Scale, and in the case of zeaxanthin, Frailty Index. Neither plasma lutein nor zeaxanthin concentrations were associated with changes in musculoskeletal indices or incident probable sarcopenia (p > 0.05). Conclusion Higher plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations at baseline were associated with a reduced likelihood of incident frailty after ~8 years of follow up. Baseline plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations were also positively associated with several indices of musculoskeletal health cross-sectionally but were not predictive of longitudinal changes in these outcomes over 4–8 years.
    • Human gut homeostasis and regeneration: the role of the gut microbiota and its metabolites

      Arenas-Gómez, Claudia Marcela; Garcia-Gutierrez, Enriqueta; Escobar, Juan S.; Cotter, Paul D.; Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Enterprise Ireland; European Commission; 847402; et al. (Informa UK Limited, 2022-11-11)
      The healthy human gut is a balanced ecosystem where host cells and representatives of the gut microbiota interact and communicate in a bidirectional manner at the gut epithelium. As a result of these interactions, many local and systemic processes necessary for host functionality, and ultimately health, take place. Impairment of the integrity of the gut epithelium diminishes its ability to act as an effective gut barrier, can contribute to conditions associated to inflammation processes and can have other negative consequences. Pathogens and pathobionts have been linked with damage of the integrity of the gut epithelium, but other components of the gut microbiota and some of their metabolites can contribute to its repair and regeneration. Here, we review what is known about the effect of bacterial metabolites on the gut epithelium and, more specifically, on the regulation of repair by intestinal stem cells and the regulation of the immune system in the gut. Additionally, we explore the potential therapeutic use of targeted modulation of the gut microbiota to maintain and improve gut homeostasis as a mean to improve health outcomes.
    • Irish dairy and drystock farmers’ attitudes and perceptions to planting trees and adopting agroforestry practices on their land

      Irwin, Rachel; Dhubháin, Áine Ní; Short, Ian; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; 2020026 (Elsevier BV, 2022-12)
      Due to the intensification of agriculture and transition to monoculture plantations, vast areas of native woodland have been lost from the Irish landscape. As these trees gradually vanished from agricultural land, the use of traditional, ancient agroforestry practices dwindled. Currently, forestry cover in Ireland is 25% lower than the European average, with the rate of afforestation remaining critically low. Agroforestry has been cited as a means to increase forestry cover in Ireland while continuing to produce viable high quality agricultural products on the same parcel of land. However, even with a range of afforestation schemes available, farmers exhibit an evident reluctance to adopt agroforestry. This research aimed to examine the main attitudes and perceptions of Irish dairy and drystock farmers to planting trees on their land and adopting agroforestry practices. The majority of farmers included within the dataset exhibited a positive attitude towards trees on their farms, with the main negative behavioural beliefs relating to impacts on pasture. Family and Teagasc (The Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority) are the highest cited influential bodies while the majority of farmers exhibit high perceived behavioural control. Intention rates to plant trees are high, albeit mainly on marginal areas of the farm. Agroforestry knowledge is low in Ireland with the word itself eliciting negative responses amongst the farming community. The results provide a comprehensive understanding of the main attitudes, influential bodies and barriers that affect agroforestry uptake in Ireland.
    • Effects of early spring N-fertilisation strategies on grass production and nitrogen recovery

      McNamara, K.A.; Casey, I.; Humphreys, James; European Union; Irish Dairy Levy (Teagasc, 2022-11-02)
      Application rate and application date of fertiliser nitrogen (N) are important factors determining grass production response and N recovery by grassland in spring. This study was conducted at two sites with different soil types (sandy loam and clay loam) in Ireland in spring 2005 and 2006. In comparison with a non-fertilised (zero-N) control, urea N was applied at rates of 60 and 90 kg N/ha either as single or split applications on eight dates ranging between 11 January and 14 March. Grass was harvested on four occasions between 21 February and 25 April. Split fertiliser N applications provided the best outcome in relation to grass DM production, apparent recovery of fertiliser N (ARFN) and cost of additional grass produced compared with single applications. Likewise, in this study the optimum date to commence fertiliser N application was 21 January combined with a second application on 26 February in terms of the cost-effectiveness of the fertiliser N input to increase grass DM production.