Now showing items 1-20 of 1564

    • Evaluation of the Potential of Lactobacillus paracasei Adjuncts for Flavor Compounds Development and Diversification in Short-Aged Cheddar Cheese

      Stefanovic, Ewelina; Kilcawley, Kieran N.; Roces, Clara; Rea, Mary C.; O'Sullivan, Maurice; Sheehan, Jeremiah J.; McAuliffe, Olivia; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 2012040 (Frontiers, 2018-07-05)
      The non-starter microbiota of Cheddar cheese mostly comprises mesophilic lactobacilli, such as Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus plantarum. These bacteria are recognized for their potential to improve Cheddar cheese flavor when used as adjunct cultures. In this study, three strains of L. paracasei (DPC2071, DPC4206, and DPC4536) were evaluated for their contribution to the enhancement and diversification of flavor in short-aged Cheddar cheese. The strains were selected based on their previously determined genomic diversity, variability in proteolytic enzyme activities and metabolic capability in cheese model systems. The addition of adjunct cultures did not affect the gross composition or levels of lipolysis of the cheeses. The levels of free amino acids (FAA) in cheeses showed a significant increase after 28 days of ripening. However, the concentrations of individual amino acids in the cheeses did not significantly differ except for some amino acids (aspartic acid, threonine, serine, and tryptophan) at Day 14. Volatile profile analysis revealed that the main compounds that differentiated the cheeses were of lipid origin, such as long chain aldehydes, acids, ketones, and lactones. This study demonstrated that the adjunct L. paracasei strains contributed to the development and diversification of compounds related to flavor in short-aged Cheddar cheeses.
    • Evaluating Established Methods for Rumen 16S rRNA Amplicon Sequencing With Mock Microbial Populations

      McGovern, Emily; Blackshields, Gordon; McCabe, Matthew S.; Waters, Sinéad M.; FACCE-JPI grant; Walsh Fellowship award; 2014231 (Frontiers, 2018-06-25)
      The rumen microbiome scientific community has utilized amplicon sequencing as an aid in identifying potential community compositional trends that could be used as an estimation of various production and performance traits including methane emission, animal protein production efficiency, and ruminant health status. In order to translate rumen microbiome studies into executable application, there is a need for experimental and analytical concordance within the community. The objective of this study was to assess these factors in relation to selected currently established methods for 16S phylogenetic community analysis on a microbial community standard (MC) and a DNA standard (DS; ZymoBIOMICSTM). DNA was extracted from MC using the RBBC method commonly used for microbial DNA extraction from rumen digesta samples. 16S rRNA amplicon libraries were generated for the MC and DS using primers routinely used for rumen bacterial and archaeal community analysis. The primers targeted the V4 and V3–V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene and samples were subjected to both 20 and 28 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) cycles under identical cycle conditions. Sequencing was conducted using the Illumina MiSeq platform. As the bacteria contained in the microbial mock community were well-classified species, and for ease of explanation, we used the results of the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool classification to assess the DNA, PCR cycle number, and primer type. Sequence classification methodology was assessed independently. Spearman’s correlation analysis indicated that utilizing the repeated bead beating and column method for DNA extraction in combination with primers targeting the 16S rRNA gene using 20 first-round PCR cycles was sufficient for amplicon sequencing to generate a relatively accurate depiction of the bacterial communities present in rumen samples. These results also emphasize the requirement to develop and utilize positive mock community controls for all rumen microbiomic studies in order to discern errors which may arise at any step during a next-generation sequencing protocol.
    • INFOGEST static in vitro simulation of gastrointestinal food digestion

      Brodkorb, Andre; Egger, Lotti; Alminger, Marie; et al; French National Institute for Agricultural Research; European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST); FA1005 (Nature Publishing Group, 2019-03-18)
      Developing a mechanistic understanding of the impact of food structure and composition on human health has increasingly involved simulating digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract. These simulations have used a wide range of different conditions that often have very little physiological relevance, and this impedes the meaningful comparison of results. The standardized protocol presented here is based on an international consensus developed by the COST INFOGEST network. The method is designed to be used with standard laboratory equipment and requires limited experience to encourage a wide range of researchers to adopt it. It is a static digestion method that uses constant ratios of meal to digestive fluids and a constant pH for each step of digestion. This makes the method simple to use but not suitable for simulating digestion kinetics. Using this method, food samples are subjected to sequential oral, gastric and intestinal digestion while parameters such as electrolytes, enzymes, bile, dilution, pH and time of digestion are based on available physiological data. This amended and improved digestion method (INFOGEST 2.0) avoids challenges associated with the original method, such as the inclusion of the oral phase and the use of gastric lipase. The method can be used to assess the endpoints resulting from digestion of foods by analyzing the digestion products (e.g., peptides/amino acids, fatty acids, simple sugars) and evaluating the release of micronutrients from the food matrix. The whole protocol can be completed in ~7 d, including ~5 d required for the determination of enzyme activities.
    • 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. P; Hill, Colin; Science Foundation Ireland; European Regional Development Fund; European Regional Development Fund; SFI/12/RC/2273; SFI/14/SP APC/B3032 (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, O.; 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; 12/IP/1519; 51728801) (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 P J; Kinirons, Martin; Whelton, Helen; Ryan, C. A; Stanton, Catherine; Harris, Hugh M B; 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, Pat G; Hueston, Cara M; Pinheiro, Jorge; Rudkin, Justine K; Melgar, Silvia; Cotter, Paul D; Hill, Colin; Gahan, Cormac G M; European Union; Science Foundation Ireland; 641984; SFI/12/RC/2273 (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 M; 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.
    • Evaluation of Microbial Communities Associated With the Liquid and Solid Phases of the Rumen of Cattle Offered a Diet of Perennial Ryegrass or White Clover

      Bowen, Jenna M.; McCabe, Matthew S.; Lister, Susan J.; Cormican, Paul; Dewhurst, Richard J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Frontiers, 2018-10-08)
      Rumen microbiota plays an important role in animal productivity, methane production and health. Several different locations have been used to obtain rumen samples (i.e., liquid-phase samples, solid-phase samples, buccal swabs) in previous studies. Here we assess differences in the rumen microbiota between solid- and liquid-phases of the rumen under differing dietary conditions (white clover vs. perennial ryegrass); there were 4 sample types: liquid-associated/grass (LG), solid-associated/grass (SG), liquid-associated/clover (LC), and solid-associated/clover (SC). Four Holstein-Friesian cows were strip grazed on pure stands of perennial ryegrass or white clover in a change-over design experiment with 3 periods (each lasting for 3 weeks). Solid- and liquid- phase microbes were obtained following total rumen evacuation on the penultimate day of each period. DNA was extracted and multiplexed libraries sequenced using 16S next generation sequencing (Illumina MiSeq). Demultiplexed sequences underwent quality control and taxonomic profiles were generated for each sample. Statistical analysis for the effects of diet and phase was conducted both overall [using non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) and diversity indices] and for individual taxa. Separation of both diet and phase was observed NMDS, with significant effects of diet (P < 0.001) and phase (P < 0.001) being observed. Regardless of diet, Prevotella was most abundant in the liquid samples. When assessing differences between phases, the majority of statistically significant taxa (predominantly from Archaea and the order Clostridiales) were found at higher relative abundances in solid-phase samples. Diversity (Shannon Index) was lower in the liquid-phase samples, possibly because of the higher relative abundance of Prevotella. A presence vs. absence approach, followed by Chi-squared testing, was adopted. Differences between phases (LG vs. LC, LC vs. LG, SG vs. SC, and SC vs. SG) and differences between phases for the clover diet (LC vs. SC and SC vs. LC) were significant (P < 0.001); differences between phases for the grass diet were non-significant. Sampling technique has a profound impact on reported microbial communities, which must be taken into consideration, particularly as archaea may be underestimated in the liquid-phase.
    • Dietary alpha-lactalbumin alters energy balance, gut microbiota composition and intestinal nutrient transporter expression in high-fat diet fed mice

      Boscaini, Serena; Cabrera-Rubio, Raul; Speakman, John R.; Cotter, Paul D.; Cryan, John F.; Nilaweera, Kanishka N.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Science Foundation Ireland; BBSRC; Teagasc; 2016007; SFI/16/BBSRC/3389; BB/P009875/1 (Cambridge University Press, 2019-03-05)
      Recently there has been a considerable rise in the frequency of metabolic diseases, such as obesity, due to changes in lifestyle and resultant imbalances between energy intake and expenditure. Whey proteins are considered as potentially important components of a dietary solution to the obesity problem. However, the roles of individual whey proteins in energy balance remain poorly understood. This study investigated the effects of a high fat diet (HFD) containing alphalactalbumin (LAB), a specific whey protein, or the non-whey protein casein (CAS), on energy balance, nutrient transporters expression, and enteric microbial populations. C57BL/6J mice (n = 8) were given a HFD containing either 20% CAS or LAB as protein sources or a low-fat diet (LFD) containing CAS for 10 weeks. HFD-LAB fed mice showed a significant increase in cumulative energy intake (P=0.043), without differences in body weight, energy expenditure, locomotor activity, respiratory exchange ratio or subcutaneous and epididymal adipose tissue weight. HFD-LAB intake led to a decrease in the expression of glucose transporter glut2 in the ileum (P=0.05)and in the fatty acid transporter cd36 (P<0.001) in both ileum and jejunum. This suggests a reduction of absorption efficiency within the small intestine in the HFD-LAB group. DNA from faecal samples was used for 16S rRNA-based assessment of intestinal microbiota populations; the genera Lactobacillus, Parabacteroides and Bifidobacterium were present in significantly higher proportions in the HFD-LAB group. These data indicate a possible functional relationship between gut microbiota, intestinal nutrient transporters and energy balance, with no impact on weight gain.
    • Effect of Harvest Timing and Soil Moisture Content on Compaction, Growth and Harvest Yield in a Miscanthus Cropping System

      O'Flynn, Michael G.; Finnan, John M.; Curley, Edna M.; McDonnell, Kevin P.; Science Foundation Ireland; CP/E001 (MDPI, 2018-09-22)
      Harvesting Miscanthus × giganteus (J.M. Greef & Deuter ex Hodkinson & Renvoize) after shoot emergence is known to reduce yields in subsequent seasons. This research was conducted in Miscanthus to assess the effects on crop response and soil compaction of annually repeated traffic, applied both before new growth in the rhizomes (early harvest) and after shoot emergence (late harvest), at two different soil moisture contents. While an annual early harvest, yields more than a late harvest, because damage to new shoots is avoided, soil compaction may be increased following repeated harvests. Five treatments were tested: (a) An untrafficked control, (b) early-traffic on soil with typical soil moisture content (SMC) (early-normal), (c) early-traffic on soil with elevated SMC (early-elevated), (d) late-traffic on soil with typical SMC (late-normal) and (e) late-traffic on soil with elevated SMC (late-wet). The experiment was conducted on a Gleysol in Co. Dublin, Ireland during 2010 and 2011. Crop response effects were assessed by measuring stem numbers, stem height, trafficked zone biomass yield (November) and overall stem yield (January). Compaction effects were assessed by measuring penetration resistance, bulk density and water infiltration rate. Trafficked zone biomass yield in the early-dry and early-wet treatments was, respectively, 18% and 23% lower than in the control, but was, respectively, 39% and 31% higher than in the late-dry treatment. Overall, stem yield was significantly lower in the late-normal and late-wet treatments (10.4 and 10.1 tdm ha−1 respectively) when compared with the control (12.4 tdm ha−1), but no significant difference was recorded in overall stem yield between both early-traffic treatments and the control. Penetration resistance values were significantly higher in all trafficked treatments when compared with the control at depths of 0.15 m (≥54–61%) and 0.30 m (≥27–57%) and were significantly higher in 2011 when compared with 2010 at depths of 0.15 and 0.30 m. Baler system traffic in Miscanthus significantly reduced yields and significantly increased compaction annually. Miscanthus harvested early, on a dry soil, yielded 1.1 tdm ha−1 more than when harvested late on a dry soil. The yield advantage increased to 1.3 tdm ha−1 when early harvesting on a soil with 40–43% moisture content was compared with late harvesting on a wetter soil (51–52% moisture content). In this study, the magnitude of yield losses from compaction or other causes in early harvests was substantially lower than the yield losses, which resulted from shoot damage in late harvests. It is likely in similar climates that the results of this study would also apply to other perennial crops growing in similar soil types
    • Distribution and extent of High Nature Value farmland in the Republic of Ireland (tetrad scale)

      Matin, Shafique; Sullivan, C. A.; Finn, John A.; O'hUallacháin, Daire; Green, Stuart; Meredith, David; Moran, James (2019-05-06)
      High Nature Value (HNV) farmland is extensively managed farmland that has high biodiversity. This farmland is important for the conservation of semi-natural habitats and the plants and animals linked with them. Supporting this type of farmland will ensure high levels of farmland biodiversity, vibrant rural communities, high water, air and soil quality and resistance to flooding among other things. To map the likely distribution of HNV farmland in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) we used five indicators adapted for the Irish context and weighted based on expert knowledge and literature. The indicators used are: semi-natural habitat cover (CORINE land cover), stocking density (Land parcel information system), hedgerow/scrub cover (Teagasc), river and stream density (OSI), and soil diversity (Teagasc). Indicator data sets were included in a weighted sum model that combined raster indicator inputs, representing relative weights and the output HNV farmland had a tetrad-scale (2 km × 2 km) spatial resolution.
    • Predicted distribution of High Nature Value farmland in the Republic of Ireland

      Matin, Shafique; Sullivan, C. A.; O'hUallacháin, Daire; Meredith, David; Moran, J.; Finn, John A.; Green, Stuart; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/S/108 (Taylor & Francis, 2016-08-31)
      High Nature Value (HNV) farmland is typically characterised by low-intensity farming associated with high biodiversity and species of conservation concern. Mapping the occurrence and distribution of such farmland are useful for appropriate targeting of conservation measures and supporting associated rural communities. We mapped the likely distribution of HNV farmland in the Republic of Ireland using a linear regression model incorporating established European indicators, adapted for Ireland and weightings based on expert opinion. The indicators used were semi-natural habitat cover, stocking density, hedgerow density, river and stream density and soil diversity, with highest weightings placed on the first two indicators (40% and 30%, respectively). The map provides information on the likely occurrence and distribution of HNV farmland in each electoral division as a reference point for future monitoring of the distribution of HNV farmland in the Republic of Ireland in order to assist with planning and policy development for the rural environment.
    • Functional Land Management: Bridging the Think-Do-Gap using a multi-stakeholder science policy interface

      O'Sullivan, Lilian; Wall, David; Creamer, Rachel E.; Bampa, Francesca; Schulte, Rogier P. O.; European Union; National Development Plan 2007–2013.; 635201; 677407; 13S468 (Springer, 2017-11)
      Functional Land Management (FLM) is proposed as an integrator for sustainability policies and assesses the functional capacity of the soil and land to deliver primary productivity, water purification and regulation, carbon cycling and storage, habitat for biodiversity and recycling of nutrients. This paper presents the catchment challenge as a method to bridge the gap between science, stakeholders and policy for the effective management of soils to deliver these functions. Two challenges were completed by a wide range of stakeholders focused around a physical catchment model—(1) to design an optimised catchment based on soil function targets, (2) identify gaps to implementation of the proposed design. In challenge 1, a high level of consensus between different stakeholders emerged on soil and management measures to be implemented to achieve soil function targets. Key gaps including knowledge, a mix of market and voluntary incentives and mandatory measures were identified in challenge 2.
    • Investigation into the bio-physical constraints on farmer turn-out-date decisions using remote sensing and meteorological data.

      Green, Stuart; Teagasc; Goddard Space Flight Center; Washington Space Grant Consortium (2019)
      Grass is the most common landcover in Ireland and covers a bigger percentage (52%) of the country than any other in Europe. Grass as fodder is Ireland’s most important crop and is the foundation of its most important indigenous industry, agriculture. Yet knowledge of its distribution, performance and yield is scant. How grass is nationally, on a farm by farm, year by year basis managed is not known. In this thesis the gaps in knowledge about grassland performance across Ireland are presented along with arguments on why these knowledge gaps should be closed. As an example the need for high spatial resolution animal stocking rate data in European temperate grassland systems is shown. The effect of high stocking density on grass management is most apparent early in the growing season, and a 250m scale characterization of early spring vegetation growth from 2003-2012, based on MODIS NDVI time series products, is constructed. The average rate of growth is determined as a simple linear model for each pixel, using only the highest quality data for the period. These decadal spring growth model coefficients, start of season cover and growth rate, are regressed against log of stocking rate (r2 19 = 0.75, p<0.001). This model stocking rate is used to create a map of grassland use intensity in Ireland, which, when tested against an independent set of stocking data, is shown to be successful with an RMSE of 0.13 Livestock Unit/ha for a range of stocking densities from 0.1 to 3.3 Livestock Unit/ha. This model provides the first validated high resolution approach to mapping stocking rates in intensively managed European grassland systems. There is a demonstrated a need for a system to estimate current growing conditions. Using the spring growth model constructed for estimating stocking density a new style of grass growth progress anomaly map in the time-domain was developed. Using the developed satellite dataset 1 and 12 years of ground climate station data in Ireland, NDVI was modelled against time as a proxy for grass growth This model is the reference for estimating current seasonal progress of grass growth against a ten year average. The model is developed to estimate Seasonal Progress Anomalies in the Time domain (SPAT), giving a result in terms of “days behind” and “days ahead” of the norm. SPAT estimates for 2012 and 2013 are compared to ground based estimates from 30 climate stations and have a correlation coefficient of 0.897 and RMSE of 15days. The method can successfully map current grass growth trends compared to the average and present this information to the farmer in simple everyday language. This is understood by the author to be the first validated growth anomaly service, and the first for intensive European grasslands. The decisions on when to turn out cattle (the turn out date (TOD)) from winter housing to spring grazing is an important one on Irish dairy farms which has significant impacts on operating costs on the farm. To examine the relationship of TOD to conditions, the National Farm Survey (NFS) of Ireland database was geocoded and the data on turn out dates from 199 farms across Ireland over five years was used. A fixed effects linear panel data model was employed to explore the association between TOD and conditions, as it allows for unobserved variation between farmers to be ignored in favour of modelling the variance year on year. The environmental variables used in the analysis account for 38% of the variance in the turn out dates on farms nationwide. National seasonal conditions dominate over local variation, and for every week earlier grass grows in spring, farmers gain 3.7 days in grazing season but ignore 3.3 days of growth that could have been used. Every 100mm extra rain in spring means TOD is a day later and every dry day leads to turn out being half a day earlier. A well-drained soil makes TOD 2.5 days earlier compared to a poorly drained soil and TOD gets a day later for every 16km north form the south coast. This work demonstrates that precision agriculture 1 driven by optical and radar satellite data is closer to being a reality in Europe driven by enormous amounts of free imagery from NASA and the ESA Sentinel programs coupled with open source meteorological data and models and new developments in data analytics.
    • The effect of ovine milk fermentation on the antithrombotic properties of polar lipids

      Lordan, Ronan; Walsh, Aaron M.; Crispie, Fiona; Finnegan, Laura; Cotter, Paul D.; Zabetakis, Ioannis; Enterprise Ireland; Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick, Ireland; IP-2016-0488Y (Elsevier, 2019-01-24)
      The effect of fermentation on the antithrombotic properties of polar lipids in ovine milk has been assessed through the production of yoghurts. The total lipids (TL), total neutral lipids (TNL), and total polar lipids (TPL) were extracted. The fatty acid profiles of all yoghurt polar lipids were analysed by GC-MS. The levels of MUFA increased in the fatty acids of the polar lipids, but there was a reduction in PUFA as milk was fermented to yoghurt. The bioactivity of each lipid extract was assessed against platelet-activating factor (PAF) induced platelet aggregation. All yoghurt polar lipids exhibited potent antithrombotic activities with IC50 values ranging from 45 to 77 µg. Shotgun metagenomics determined the species-level microbial composition and functional potential of the yoghurts. Yoghurts containing L. acidophilus seem to correlate with greater bioactivity. Several phospholipid biosynthetic genes have been identified in the most antithrombotic yoghurts. This study has demonstrated that fermentation enhances the antithrombotic properties of yoghurt polar lipids against PAF.
    • Ash dieback in Ireland – A review of European management options and case studies in remedial silviculture

      Short, Ian; Hawe, Jerry; Woodland Trust NI; COFORD; Teagasc (Society of Irish Foresters, 2018)
      Ash dieback, caused by Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, is developing rapidly across the island of Ireland. Ireland’s ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) woodlands, particularly first rotation plantations, are quite unique and are at particular risk of very rapid decline. Urgent action is required in order to minimise the economic, ecological and social impact of the disease. However, for this to happen forest owners require guidance regarding potential positive management interventions. This article outlines the wider, mainly European, experience of remedial silviculture. It presents three case studies on existing remedial silviculture trials in Ireland. In the absence of silvicultural research data specific to the evolving situation with ash dieback, this article explores the potential benefits of positive practical actions which may minimise the impact of the disease. Despite the seriousness of the situation, such silvicultural activity may even result in a positive economic outcome. It is hoped that by beginning to document potential mitigatory management options, this paper may bring some reassurance to owners and managers of ashdominated woodlands.