Now showing items 41-60 of 3547

    • The Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Reverses Corticosterone-Induced Changes in Cortical Neurons

      Pusceddu, Matteo M.; Nolan, Yvonne M.; Green, Holly F.; Robertson, Ruairi C.; STANTON, CATHERINE; Kelly, Philip; Cryan, John F.; Dinan, Timothy G.; Food Institutional Research Measure; Science Foundation Ireland; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2015-12-12)
      Background: Chronic exposure to the glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone exerts cellular stress-induced toxic effects that have been associated with neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. Docosahexaenoic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to be of benefit in stress-related disorders, putatively through protective action in neurons. Methods: We investigated the protective effect of docosahexaenoic acid against glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone-induced cellular changes in cortical cell cultures containing both astrocytes and neurons. Results: We found that glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone (100, 150, 200 μM) at different time points (48 and 72 hours) induced a dose- and time-dependent reduction in cellular viability as assessed by methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium. Moreover, glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone (200 μM, 72 hours) decreased the percentage composition of neurons while increasing the percentage of astrocytes as assessed by βIII-tubulin and glial fibrillary acidic protein immunostaining, respectively. In contrast, docosahexaenoic acid treatment (6 μM) increased docosahexaenoic acid content and attenuated glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone (200 μM)-induced cell death (72 hours) in cortical cultures. This translates into a capacity for docosahexaenoic acid to prevent neuronal death as well as astrocyte overgrowth following chronic exposure to glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone. Furthermore, docosahexaenoic acid (6 μM) reversed glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone-induced neuronal apoptosis as assessed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick-end labeling and attenuated glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone-induced reductions in brain derived neurotrophic factor mRNA expression in these cultures. Finally, docosahexaenoic acid inhibited glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone-induced downregulation of glucocorticoid receptor expression on βIII- tubulin-positive neurons. Conclusions: This work supports the view that docosahexaenoic acid may be beneficial in ameliorating stress-related cellular changes in the brain and may be of value in psychiatric disorders.
    • N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids through the Lifespan: Implication for Psychopathology

      Pusceddu, Matteo M.; Kelly, Philip; STANTON, CATHERINE; Cryan, John F.; Dinan, Timothy G.; Mead Johnson Nutrition; Cremo; Suntory Wellness Danone-Nutritia; 4D Pharma; Yakult; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2016-09-08)
      Objective: The impact of lifetime dietary habits and their role in physical, mental, and social well-being has been the focus of considerable recent research. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids as a dietary constituent have been under the spotlight for decades. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids constitute key regulating factors of neurotransmission, neurogenesis, and neuroinflammation and are thereby fundamental for development, functioning, and aging of the CNS. Of note is the fact that these processes are altered in various psychiatric disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Design: Relevant literature was identified through a search of MEDLINE via PubMed using the following words, “n-3 PUFAs,” “EPA,” and “DHA” in combination with “stress,” “cognition,” “ADHD,” “anxiety,” “depression,” “bipolar disorder,” “schizophrenia,” and “Alzheimer.” The principal focus was on the role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids throughout the lifespan and their implication for psychopathologies. Recommendations for future investigation on the potential clinical value of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were examined. Results: The inconsistent and inconclusive results from randomized clinical trials limits the usage of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in clinical practice. However, a body of literature demonstrates an inverse correlation between omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels and quality of life/ psychiatric diseases. Specifically, older healthy adults showing low habitual intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids benefit most from consuming them, showing improved age-related cognitive decline. Conclusions: Although further studies are required, there is an exciting and growing body of research suggesting that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may have a potential clinical value in the prevention and treatment of psychopathologies.
    • Gut microbiota, obesity and diabetes

      Patterson, E; Ryan, PM; Cryan, John F; Dinan, Timothy G; Ross, R Paul; Fitzgerald, Gerald F; Stanton, Catherine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship; Science Foundation Ireland (SFI); SFI/12/RC/2273 (BMJ Journals, 2016-02-24)
      The central role of the intestinal microbiota in the progression and, equally, prevention of metabolic dysfunction is becoming abundantly apparent. The symbiotic relationship between intestinal microbiota and host ensures appropriate development of the metabolic system in humans. However, disturbances in composition and, in turn, functionality of the intestinal microbiota can disrupt gut barrier function, a trip switch for metabolic endotoxemia. This low-grade chronic inflammation, brought about by the influx of inflammatory bacterial fragments into circulation through a malfunctioning gut barrier, has considerable knock-on effects for host adiposity and insulin resistance. Conversely, recent evidence suggests that there are certain bacterial species that may interact with host metabolism through metabolite-mediated stimulation of enteric hormones and other systems outside of the gastrointestinal tract, such as the endocannabinoid system. When the abundance of these keystone species begins to decline, we see a collapse of the symbiosis, reflected in a deterioration of host metabolic health. This review will investigate the intricate axis between the microbiota and host metabolism, while also addressing the promising and novel field of probiotics as metabolic therapies.
    • Farm economic sustainability in the European Union: A pilot study

      O'Donoghue, Cathal; Devisme, Simon; Ryan, Mary; Conneely, Ricky; Gillespie, Patrick; Vrolijk, Hans; EU Seventh Framework Programme; 613800 (NAIK Research Institute of Agricultural Economics, 2016-12-01)
      The measurement of farm economic sustainability has received intermittent academic interest in recent times, while the conceptual discussions are often quite limited. Moreover, this concept receives more attention at periods of diffi culty for the sector. The measurement of farm viability is an important precondition to enrich these discussions. Therefore, it is necessary to develop more comprehensive and detailed measurement techniques to provide more clarity on viability and vulnerability levels in the sector. This paper refocuses attention on this issue, using a pilot dataset collected at farm level across a range of EU Member States which facilitates the assessment of an additional category of viability, namely that of economically sustainable farms, i.e. farms that are economically vulnerable but which are deemed sustainable by the presence of off-farm income. Differences in viability and economic sustainability across the eight surveyed Member States are shown. The analysis is sensitive to the factors included in the measurement of viability as well as to the threshold income used to defi ne viability. Although this is a pilot study, it enhances our understanding of the factors affecting cross-country evaluation of viability and sustainability, and the policy instruments that could improve viability levels.
    • Sperm-Coating Beta-Defensin 126 Is a Dissociation-Resistant Dimer Produced by Epididymal Epithelium in the Bovine Reproductive Tract

      Narciandi, F.; Fernandez-Fuertes, B.; Khairulzaman, I.; Jahns, H.; King, D.; Finlay, E. K.; Mok, K. H.; Fair, S.; Lonergan, P.; Farrelly, C. O.; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2016-10-05)
      Beta-defensins are innate immune molecules, often described as antimicrobial peptides because of their bactericidal activity and are now known to have diverse additional functions, including cell signaling, chemoattraction, immunoregulation, and reproduction. In humans and primates, beta-defensin 126 has been shown to regulate the ability of sperm to swim through cervical mucus and to protect sperm from attack by the female immune system during transit toward the oviduct. Bovine beta-defensin 126 (BBD126) is the ortholog of human defensin 126, and computational analysis here revealed significant conservation between BBD126 and other mammalian orthologs at the N-terminus, although extensive sequence differences were detected at the C-terminus, implying possible species-specific roles for this beta-defensin in reproduction. We had previously demonstrated preferential expression of this and related beta-defensin genes in the bovine male reproductive tract, but no studies of bovine beta-defensin proteins have been performed to date. Here, we analyzed BBD126 protein using a monoclonal antibody (a-BBD126) generated against a 14 amino acid peptide sequence from the secreted fragment of BBD126. The specificity of a-BBD126 was validated by testing against the native form of the peptide recovered from bovine caudal epididymal fluid and recombinant BBD126 generated using a prokaryotic expression system. Western blot analysis of the native and recombinant forms showed that BBD126 exists as a dimer that was highly resistant to standard methods of dissociation. Immunohistochemical staining using a-BBD126 demonstrated BBD126 protein expression by epithelial cells of the caudal epididymis and vas deferens from both mature and immature bulls. BBD126 could also be seen (by confocal microscopy) to coat caudal sperm, with staining concentrated on the tail of the sperm cells. This study is the first to demonstrate beta-defensin 126 protein expression in the bovine reproductive tract and on bull sperm. Its dissociation-resistant dimeric structure is likely to have important functional implications for the role of BBD126 in bovine reproduction.
    • Contextual Hub Analysis Tool (CHAT): A Cytoscape app for identifying contextually relevant hubs in biological networks

      Muetze, Tanja; Goenawan, Ivan H.; Wiencko, Heather L.; Bernal-Llinares, Manuel; Bryan, Kenneth; Lynn, David J.; European Union; FP7-HEALTH-2011-278568 (F1000 Research Ltd, 2016-07-19)
      Highly connected nodes (hubs) in biological networks are topologically important to the structure of the network and have also been shown to be preferentially associated with a range of phenotypes of interest. The relative importance of a hub node, however, can change depending on the biological context. Here, we report a Cytoscape app, the Contextual Hub Analysis Tool (CHAT), which enables users to easily construct and visualize a network of interactions from a gene or protein list of interest, integrate contextual information, such as gene expression or mass spectrometry data, and identify hub nodes that are more highly connected to contextual nodes (e.g. genes or proteins that are differentially expressed) than expected by chance. In a case study, we use CHAT to construct a network of genes that are differentially expressed in Dengue fever, a viral infection. CHAT was used to identify and compare contextual and degree-based hubs in this network. The top 20 degree-based hubs were enriched in pathways related to the cell cycle and cancer, which is likely due to the fact that proteins involved in these processes tend to be highly connected in general. In comparison, the top 20 contextual hubs were enriched in pathways commonly observed in a viral infection including pathways related to the immune response to viral infection. This analysis shows that such contextual hubs are considerably more biologically relevant than degree-based hubs and that analyses which rely on the identification of hubs solely based on their connectivity may be biased towards nodes that are highly connected in general rather than in the specific context of interest.
    • Draft Genome Sequence of Three Endophyte Strains of Pseudomonas fluorescens Isolated from Miscanthus giganteus

      Moreira, António S.; Germaine, Kieran J.; Lloyd, Andrew; Lally, Richard D.; Galbally, Paul T.; Ryan, David; Dowling, David N. (American Society for Microbiology, 2016-10-27)
      We report here the draft genome sequence of three Pseudomonas fluorescens strains (L111, L228, and L321) isolated from Miscanthus giganteus. The draft genome analyses uncovered a group of genes involved in the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites and for plant growth promotion.
    • Effect of Freezing Conditions on Fecal Bacterial Composition in Pigs

      Metzler-Zebeli, Barbara; Lawlor, Peadar; Magowan, Elizabeth; Zebeli, Qendrim; European Union; 311794 (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2016-02-25)
      Sample preservation and recovery of intact DNA from gut samples may affect the inferred gut microbiota composition in pigs. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of the freezing process and storage temperature prior to DNA extraction on DNA recovery and bacterial community composition in pig feces using quantitative PCR. Fresh fecal samples from six growing pigs were collected and five aliquots of each prepared: (1) total DNA extracted immediately; (2) stored at −20 °C; (3) snap frozen and stored at −20 °C; (4) stored at −80 °C; and (5) snap frozen and stored at −80 °C. Results showed that DNA yields from fresh fecal samples were, on average, 25 to 30 ng higher than those from the various stored samples. The DNA extracted from fresh samples had more gene copies of total bacteria and all targeted bacterial groups per gram feces compared to DNA extraction from frozen samples. Data presentation also modified the observed effect of freeze storage; as results for Lactobacillus group, Enterococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., Clostridium cluster IV, Bacteroides-Prevotella-Porphyromonas and Enterobacteriaceae showed the opposite effect when expressed as relative abundance, by being greater in freeze stored feces than in fresh feces. Snap freezing increased the relative proportion of Clostridium cluster IV by 24%. In conclusion, the freezing process affected DNA yield and bacterial abundances, whereas snap freezing and storage temperature had only little influence on abundances of bacterial populations in pig feces.
    • Genetic gain in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) varieties 1973 to 2013

      McDonagh, J.; O’Donovan, M.; McEvoy, M.; Gilliland, T. J. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2016-08-10)
      Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) forms the basis of grassland production in temperate pastures and is globally one of the most important forage grasses. Consequently, there has been large plant breeding industry investment over the past 40 years in producing new varieties and independent testing systems designed to identify and list those with the most improved performances. This study was conducted at the Plant Testing Station, Crossnacreevy, Northern Ireland and compared the DM yield and sward density of new varieties submitted from 1973 to 2013 and grass digestibility from 1980 to 2013, under conservation and simulated grazing managements. A variety × years matrix was compiled for each parameter and comparable means between varieties never in side by side performance trials were produced. Dry matter yields showed an overall significant (p < 0.001) average annual increase of 0.52 % under conservation and 0.35 % under simulated grazing, with similar gain levels within maturity groups or ploidies. These rates were not constant over time, and periods of no gain occurred in various variety groupings. Sward density of the examined varieties did not change significantly. Herbage digestibility showed no improvement over the timeframe but had the largest differences between concurrent varieties, indicating that improvements were possible in the future. The study indicated that plant breeding gains were primarily DM yield focused with sward density remaining stagnant over the 40 years, while the lack of grass digestibility improvement appeared to only require more time to overcome. Evidence of benefits and risks of variety testing influences on plant breeding objectives was discussed.
    • Control of Zymoseptoria tritici cause of septoria tritici blotch of wheat using antifungal Lactobacillus strains

      Lynch, K.M.; Zannini, E.; Guo, J.; Axel, C.; Arendt, E.K.; Kildea, S.; Coffey, A.; CRS/07/CR03; 08RDCIT600; 08RDC607 (Wiley, 2016-07-19)
      Aims This study explored an effective biological control agent based on lactic acid bacteria culture or culture supernatant, which was effective against fungicide-resistant Zymoseptoria tritici, which causes septoria tritici blotch (STB). Methods and Results Three lactic acid bacteria strains which exhibited broad antifungal activity were investigated for their potential to control Z. tritici. Plate assays, liquid culture growth inhibition assays and STB biocontrol seedling tests were employed. Lactobacillus brevis JJ2P and Lactobacillus reuteri R2 caused significant fungal inhibition as observed by large mycelium clearing on modified MRS agar. Cell-free culture supernatants of Lact. brevis JJ2P and Lact. reuteri R2 showed antifungal activity against Z. tritici, as observed by mycelial radial growth inhibition and liquid culture growth inhibition. Cell-free supernatants of these anti-Z. tritici LAB strains were assessed in vivo for their abilities to inhibit STB development in seedling tests. Lact. brevis JJ2P was capable of inhibiting disease development and significantly reduced the diseased leaf area covered with pycnidia. Conclusions Biological control accomplished by beneficial micro-organisms such as Lact. brevis JJ2P may represent an alternative control strategy for reducing STB. Significance and Impact of the Study Globally, STB is regarded as one of the most important diseases of wheat. Control of Z. tritici is heavily reliant on fungicide application. The recent emergence of resistance or reduced sensitivity to fungicides among Z. tritici populations has urgently called for the development of new control strategies.
    • Beneficial Microbes: The pharmacy in the gut

      Linares, Daniel M.; Ross, Paul; Stanton, Catherine; Science Foundation Ireland (SFI); 02/CE/B124; 07/CE/B1368 (Taylor & Francis, 2015-12-28)
      The scientific evidence supporting the gut microbiome in relation to health maintenance and links with various disease states afflicting humans, from metabolic to mental health, has grown dramatically in the last few years. Strategies addressing the positive modulation of microbiome functionality associated with these disorders offer huge potential to the food and pharmaceutical industries to innovate and provide therapeutic solutions to many of the health issues affecting modern society. Such strategies may involve the use of probiotics and prebiotics as nutritional adjunct therapies. Probiotics are generally recognized to be a good form of therapy to keep harmful, intestinal microorganisms in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function. Probiotics are reported to improve microbial balance in the intestinal tract and promote the return to a baseline microbial community following a perturbing event (dysbiosis) such as antibiotic therapy. Prebiotics are selectively fermented ingredients that allow specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora, which confers benefits upon host well-being and health.
    • Lactobacillus reuteri FYNLJ109L1 Attenuating Metabolic Syndrome in Mice via Gut Microbiota Modulation and Alleviating Inflammation

      Yang, Bo; Zheng, Fuli; STANTON, CATHERINE; Ross, Reynolds Paul; Zhao, Jianxin; Zhang, Hao; Chen, Wei; National Natural Science Foundation of China; Nos. 32021005, 31820103010; Collaborative Innovation Center of Food Safety and Quality Control in Jiangsu Province (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021-09-02)
      Metabolic syndrome is caused by an excessive energy intake in a long-term, high-fat and/or high-sugar diet, resulting in obesity and a series of related complications, which has become a global health concern. Probiotics intervention can regulate the gut microbiota and relieve the systemic and chronic low-grade inflammation, which is an alternative to relieving metabolic syndrome. The aim of this work was to explore the alleviation of two different Lactobacillusreuteri strains on metabolic syndrome. Between the two L. reuteri strains, FYNLJ109L1 had a better improvement effect on blood glucose, blood lipid, liver tissue damage and other related indexes than NCIMB 30242. In particular, FYNLJ109L1 reduced weight gain, food intake and fat accumulation. Additionally, it can regulate the gut microbiota, increase IL-10, and reduce IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), as well as liver injury, and further reduce insulin resistance and regulate lipid metabolism disorders. In addition, it could modulate the gut microbiota, particularly a decreased Romboutsia and Clostridium sensu stricto-1, and an increased Acetatifactor. The results indicated that FYNLJ109L1 could improve metabolic syndrome significantly via alleviating inflammation and gut microbiota modulation.
    • Recreating pink defect in cheese with different strains of Thermus bacteria

      Yeluri Jonnala, Bhagya R; McSweeney, Paul L H; Cotter, Paul D; Sheehan, Jeremiah J (Wiley, 2021-07-15)
      Pink discoloration defects in cheese manifests as the appearance of pink patches within cheese blocks and has recently been associated with Thermus thermophilus. Swiss-type cheeses were prepared at pilot scale using thermophilic starter cultures, Propionibacterium freudenreichii, and one of Thermus thermophilus HB27, Thermus scotoductus SE1 or Thermus thermophilus DPC6866 or a control without Thermus. Significantly, a higher level of redness was observed in cheeses with Thermus thermophilus HB27 relative to the other cheeses and suggests that the development of the pink defect is dependent on the strain of Thermus present and on other, as yet unknown, factors that require further study.
    • Increases of Lipophilic Antioxidants and Anticancer Activity of Coix Seed Fermented by Monascus purpureus

      Zeng, Haiying; Qin, Likang; Liu, Xiaoyan; Miao, Song; Natural Science Foundation of Guizhou Province; Agriculture Committee of Guizhou Province; grant number (2019) 1111; grant number (2017) 106 & (2018) 81 (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021-03-09)
      Lipophilic tocols, γ-oryzanol, and coixenolide in coix seed before and after fermentation by Monascus purpureus were determined. Antioxidant and anticancer activities of raw and fermented coix seed were evaluated using free-radical-scavenging assays and polyunsaturated fatty acid oxidation model, and human laryngeal carcinoma cell HEp2, respectively. Compared to the raw seed, the tocols, γ-oryzanol, and coixenolide contents increased approximately 4, 25, and 2 times, respectively, in the fermented coix seed. Especially, γ-tocotrienol and γ-oryzanol reached 72.5 and 655.0 μg/g in the fermented coix seed. The lipophilic extract from fermented coix seed exhibited higher antioxidant activity in scavenging free radicals and inhibiting lipid oxidation. The inhibitory concentrations for 50% cell survival (IC50) of lipophilic extract from fermented coix seed in inhibiting HEp2 cells decreased by 42%. This study showed that coix seed fermented by M. purpureus increased free and readily bioavailable lipophilic antioxidants and anticancer activity. Therefore, fermentation could enhance the efficacy of the health promoting function of coix seeds.
    • A Proteomic Study for the Discovery of Beef Tenderness Biomarkers and Prediction of Warner–Bratzler Shear Force Measured on Longissimus thoracis Muscles of Young Limousin-Sired Bulls

      Zhu, Yao; Gagaoua, Mohammed; Mullen, Anne Maria; Kelly, Alan L.; Sweeney, Torres; Cafferky, Jamie; Viala, Didier; Hamill, Ruth M.; Teagasc and the Walsh Scholarship programme; BreedQuality project; et al. (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021-04-27)
      Beef tenderness is of central importance in determining consumers’ overall liking. To better understand the underlying mechanisms of tenderness and be able to predict it, this study aimed to apply a proteomics approach on the Longissimus thoracis (LT) muscle of young Limousin-sired bulls to identify candidate protein biomarkers. A total of 34 proteins showed differential abundance between the tender and tough groups. These proteins belong to biological pathways related to muscle structure, energy metabolism, heat shock proteins, response to oxidative stress, and apoptosis. Twenty-three putative protein biomarkers or their isoforms had previously been identified as beef tenderness biomarkers, while eleven were novel. Using regression analysis to predict shear force values, MYOZ3 (Myozenin 3), BIN1 (Bridging Integrator-1), and OGN (Mimecan) were the major proteins retained in the regression model, together explaining 79% of the variability. The results of this study confirmed the existing knowledge but also offered new insights enriching the previous biomarkers of tenderness proposed for Longissimus muscle.
    • Soil multifunctionality: Synergies and trade‐offs across European climatic zones and land uses

      Zwetsloot, Marie J.; Leeuwen, Jeroen; Hemerik, Lia; Martens, Henk; Simó Josa, Iolanda; Broek, Marijn; Debeljak, Marko; Rutgers, Michiel; Sandén, Taru; Wall, David P.; et al. (Wiley, 2020-10-08)
      With increasing societal demands for food security and environmental sustainability on land, the question arises: to what extent do synergies and trade-offs exist between soil functions and how can they be measured across Europe? To address this challenge, we followed the functional land management approach and assessed five soil functions: primary productivity, water regulation and purification, climate regulation, soil biodiversity and nutrient cycling. Soil, management and climate data were collected from 94 sites covering 13 countries, five climatic zones and two land-use types (arable and grassland). This dataset was analysed using the Soil Navigator, a multicriteria decision support system developed to assess the supply of the five soil functions simultaneously. Most sites scored high for two to three soil functions, demonstrating that managing for multifunctionality in soil is possible but that local constraints and trade-offs do exist. Nutrient cycling, biodiversity and climate regulation were less frequently delivered at high capacity than the other two soil functions. Using correlation and co-occurrence analyses, we also found that synergies and trade-offs between soil functions vary among climatic zones and land-use types. This study provides a new framework for monitoring soil quality at the European scale where both the supply of soil functions and their interactions are considered.
    • Effect of mechanical premilking stimulation on milking duration in late lactation

      Upton, J.; Browne, M.; Silva Bolona, P.; Science Foundation Ireland (SFI); Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; Dairymaster, Causeway, Ireland; 16/RC/3835 (Elsevier, 2022-11)
      This study documents the effect of mechanical prestimulation on the milking duration of pasture-based cows in late lactation to better harness increased capacity of automation in the milk harvesting process. Premilking stimulation, provided via manual or mechanical means, has been shown to promote the milk letdown reflex and assist in achieving quick, comfortable, and complete milk removal from the udder. The literature is lacking knowledge on the effect of mechanical premilking stimulation on milking duration, especially in late lactation and in pasture-based systems, and many pasture-based farms do not practice a full premilking routine because of a lack of labor availability. The current study addresses this gap in knowledge. In this study, we tested 2 treatments: (1) the No Stim treatment used normal farm milking settings with no premilking preparation and (2) the Stim treatment used 60 s of mechanical premilking stimulation, with a rate of 120 cycles per minute and a pulsator ratio of 30:70 on cluster attachment. Once the 60 s of stimulation had elapsed, normal milking settings resumed for the remainder of the milking. Sixty cows were enrolled in the study, which ran for 20 d. The effect of treatment on a.m. milking duration was significant, a.m. milking duration for Stim was 12 s shorter than that of No Stim. The effect of treatment on p.m. milk duration was not significant. Treatment had no effect on a.m./p.m. milk yields, average milk flowrates or peak milk flowrates. Significant differences emerged between treatments on a.m. and p.m. dead time (time from cluster attachment to reach a milk flowrate of 0.2 kg/min). The a.m. and p.m. dead times were 6 s shorter for Stim compared with No Stim. The time taken to achieve peak milk flowrate (time to peak) at morning milking was 7 s shorter for Stim compared with No Stim, and treatment yielded no significant effects on time to peak at p.m. milkings. Treatment also had no significant effect on log10 somatic cell count. Although the percentage of congested teat-ends and teat-barrels was numerically lower for Stim versus No Stim, no statistical differences were detected across these measures. Based on the results of the study, we found merit in applying 60 s of mechanical pre-stimulation at a.m. milking from a milking duration perspective. However, the strategy was not as successful for the p.m. milking. Analysis of the milk flowrate profiles recorded during the study suggest potential utility in employing different machine settings for various milkings based on anticipated yield and level of udder fill.
    • Barriers and opportunities of soil knowledge to address soil challenges: Stakeholders’ perspectives across Europe

      Vanino, Silvia; Pirelli, Tiziana; Di Bene, Claudia; Bøe, Frederik; Castanheira, Nádia; Chenu, Claire; Cornu, Sophie; Feiza, Virginijus; Fornara, Dario; Heller, Olivier; et al. (Elsevier, 2023-01)
      Climate-smart sustainable management of agricultural soil is critical to improve soil health, enhance food and water security, contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity preservation, and improve human health and wellbeing. The European Joint Programme for Soil (EJP SOIL) started in 2020 with the aim to significantly improve soil management knowledge and create a sustainable and integrated European soil research system. EJP SOIL involves more than 350 scientists across 24 Countries and has been addressing multiple aspects associated with soil management across different European agroecosystems. This study summarizes the key findings of stakeholder consultations conducted at the national level across 20 countries with the aim to identify important barriers and challenges currently affecting soil knowledge but also assess opportunities to overcome these obstacles. Our findings demonstrate that there is significant room for improvement in terms of knowledge production, dissemination and adoption. Among the most important barriers identified by consulted stakeholders are technical, political, social and economic obstacles, which strongly limit the development and full exploitation of the outcomes of soil research. The main soil challenge across consulted member states remains to improve soil organic matter and peat soil conservation while soil water storage capacity is a key challenge in Southern Europe. Findings from this study clearly suggest that going forward climate-smart sustainable soil management will benefit from (1) increases in research funding, (2) the maintenance and valorisation of long-term (field) experiments, (3) the creation of knowledge sharing networks and interlinked national and European infrastructures, and (4) the development of regionally-tailored soil management strategies. All the above-mentioned interventions can contribute to the creation of healthy, resilient and sustainable soil ecosystems across Europe.
    • Identification of sperm proteins as biomarkers of field fertility in Holstein-Friesian bulls used for artificial insemination

      Rabaglino, M.B.; Le Danvic, C.; Schibler, L.; Kupisiewicz, K.; Perrier, J.P.; O'Meara, C.M.; Kenny, D.A.; Fair, S.; Lonergan, P.; Science Foundation Ireland; et al. (Elsevier, 2022-12)
      Despite passing stringent quality control, bulls used in artificial insemination can vary significantly in their fertility, emphasizing the need for reliable markers of sperm quality. This study aimed to identify sperm proteins acting as biomarkers of fertility in 2 different populations of dairy bulls classified based on their field fertility. Semen was collected and cryopreserved from: 54 Holstein bulls located in Ireland, classified according to fertility indexes as low fertility (LF, n = 23), medium fertility (n = 14), or high fertility (HF, n = 17); and 18 Holstein bulls located in Denmark, classified as LF (n = 8) or HF (n = 10). The proteome was measured through liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and data were analyzed with the R software. Differentially abundant proteins between HF and LF bulls and biomarker proteins were determined through a modified t-test and random forest, respectively, selecting 301 differentially abundant proteins and 34 biomarker proteins. The predictive ability of the 34 biomarkers was evaluated employing support vector machine as the classifier, using their abundance levels in the Irish bulls to train the model and in the Danish bulls for validation. The prediction accuracy was 94.4%, with only one HF bull misclassified, corresponding to the lowest fertility index bull in the HF group. The biomarkers more abundant in sperm of HF bulls enriched axoneme assembly and sperm motility (false discovery rate <0.05), according to functional analysis. In conclusion, a robust model coupled with the application of appropriate bioinformatic tools allowed the identification of functionally relevant sperm proteins predictive of the fertility of Holstein bulls used in artificial insemination.
    • 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; European Union; et al. (Elsevier, 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.