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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

2010 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this research area is to develop novel imaging technologies aimed at confronting critical issues facing production animal agriculture by monitoring, in real-time, cellular and molecular processing in the context of the living organism. Specific research projects will cover a broad range of research in the cellular and molecular biological sciences, disease-environment interactions, animal-plant interfaces, and growth and developmental physiology with applications aimed at understanding physiological mechanisms with a specific emphasis on enhancing production performance in livestock.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
As part of this initiative, novel technologies which utilize the photon (light), thermal signatures (heat), spectroscopy and fluorescence will be adapted to cellular- and molecular-based strategies to permit physiological processes to be monitored in a dynamic fashion at the levels of single, living cells to entire organisms in vivo. These non-invasive technologies (e.g., biophotonics, using light as a quantitative indicator beacon of molecular events) will enable the expression of genes, the invasiveness of bacteria, the breakdown of plant or dietary components, or hormone-receptor interactions to be visualized in living systems both in the laboratory, the field, and under traditional livestock production environments. Faculty with expertise in functional imaging will interface with collaborating scientists working in the animal, plant and veterinary sciences to develop these novel systems aimed at addressing specific hypothesis-driven and production-based questions. Results from this initiative will not only develop new models to advance scientific progress in reproductive biology, food safety, disease, plant-animal interactions, and environmental physiology, but will also develop technological advancements that will address experimentally critical questions which heretofore have not been addressable in living systems. Finally, we will expand the use of biophotonic-based technologies to address physiological questions in animals with potential applications to field-based monitoring systems.

3. Progress Report
The Biophotonics Initiative compliments multi-disciplinary-driven cooperative research directed towards state-of-the-art photonic detection, fluorescence measurements, and thermal imaging capabilities for large animal applications. Research activities in the laboratory and field were initiated which included projects aimed at addressing: (1) methods for improving imaging capabilities in livestock via optical clearing agents; (2) fluorescent detection markers for assessing bovine embryo viability; (3) thermal imagery as applied to the monitoring of reproductive function in the porcine, bovine and equine, mammary physiology in dairy cattle, lameness in livestock, and general physiological monitoring (e.g., eye correlates to body temperature; genetic mutations responsible for causing serious diseases of the skin – hyperelastosis cutis in the equine); (4) bacterial tracking using novel transformed photonic bacteria (Salmonella and Escherichia (E.) coli) in ovine, equine and porcine models for pre-harvest food safety (porcine) and reproductive efficiency (equine and ovine) applications; and (5) simulations of rumen microbial dynamics using photonic paradigms. As part of this federal initiative and the functions of the Facility for Organismal and Cellular Imaging (FOCI) within the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, activities have been expanded to include participation by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the College of Veterinary Medicine. During the funding period, 25 peer-reviewed abstracts of research activities have been published and/or presented at scientific meetings, and 9 peer-reviewed manuscripts have been published. Planning activities were initiated with other centers (e.g., cooperative granting and equipment sharing with the Electron Microscope Center) along with various departments at Mississippi State University (the Department of Agricultural and Bioengineering, the Diagnostic Instrumentation and Analysis Laboratory, the Department of Physics, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Biological Sciences) and other institutions (University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson State University and Vanderbilt) from which research will continue among cooperators. Engineering developments and applications for real-time imaging technologies in large animal models have expanded our research investigations and the cadre of faculty which now have benefited from the Biophotonics Initiative, FOCI equipment and our technical imaging expertise. It is our belief that the Biophotonics Initiative has laid the ground-work from which future imaging technologies applied to large animals in vivo may be based. The project was monitored through emails, telephone calls, and site visits.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/26/2017
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