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Michael P Heaton (Mike)

Research Microbiologist

/ARSUserFiles/2415/Heaton2020_inch45k.jpgInfectious diseases in livestock are a significant source of loss and represent a potential risk to human health.  Identifying and removing animals with the highest risk of disease from the production cycle leads to improved herd health and food safety.  Orcid page

The ultimate goal of livestock genomics with regard to animal health is to read an animal's DNA sequence and estimate its risk for disease.  Our aims are to evaluate natural genetic variation in diverse populations and identify alleles that predispose livestock to infectious diseases.

As the depth, quality, and access to livestock genomes has increased, we have identified and published these genetic resources essential for risk factor analysis:

1) nucleotide sequence variation in disease genes, and
2) gene haplotypes that are associated with disease risk.

Our research continues to focus on addressing diseases in commercial populations of livestock. As genome-wide searches identify new candidate genes, information and technology are developed for enhancing our ability to estimate an animal's risk of disease or acquiring and maintaining infections. Transferring this technology to the livestock industries allows producers to make informed decisions for selective breeding and animal health management.

Infectious diseases of interest include:

  • Bovine respiratory disease complex (shipping fever/CD18/ITGB2)
  • Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD/CD46)
  • Ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP/TMEM154)
  • Scrapie in sheep (Prion/PRNP)

Non-infectious diseases of interest include:

  • Bovine congestive heart failure (BCHF) in feedlot cattle (BCHF page)
  • Failure of passive transfer in cattle (FPT)

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) projects (WGS page)

Recent unpublished research reports:

/ARSUserFiles/2415/CattleBrokenHeart2_1inch.jpg2020 Plant and Animal Genome conference poster:

Association of ARRDC3 and NFIA Genes with Bovine Congestive Heart Failure


/ARSUserFiles/2415/SimmentalDonorBHR_C235E_WithCalf_1.5inch.jpg2019 Public seminars containing unpublished research


 Progress report on a plains bison-Simmental interspecies cross for genome assembly by trio binning