Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

2011 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 ofmolecular 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 and 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 application to field-based monitoring systems.

3. Progress Report
Biophotonic imaging was advanced from in vitro to in vivo in highly technical models, most notably mastitis monitoring in dairy cattle. After overcoming significant regulatory hurdles, we successfully pioneered in vivo imaging in dairy cows in the field to assess the progression of experimentally induced mastitis and to monitor real-time bacterial pathogenesis. Additionally, molecular approaches in bio-marker identification, new uses of doppler sonography, and continued development of gamete and embryo systems for developmental monitoring were all significantly advanced. New laboratory animal models were initiated to speed development of biophotonic paradigms for livestock-based applications. New amphibian model paradigms permitted use larger egg and embryo systems to test feasibility of developmental monitoring. Another focus was a model of biophotonics to improve food safety of beef products through pre- and post-harvest intervention. Specifically, we demonstrated the larvae of the filth fly were capable of acquiring Escherichia coli and transmitting it when emerging from the pupae stage. Studies are underway to develop an intrafollicular ovarian microinjection method to transfect living follicles in vivo to monitor estrogen-regulated genes during the growth of follicles on the ovary, and we have successfully achieved intrafollicular transfection and gene detection in these systems. Biomarkers are also being identified for oocytes and embryos using proteomic approaches, protein-receptor studies and gene transcription-biophotonic paradigms. In collaboration with industry partners, we are using biophotonic modalities to study wound infection model systems and developing evidenced-based veterinary diagnostics to determine the best possible drug combinations (antibiotics and immuno-modulators) to treat mares presented with uterine infections during late gestation. These novel research directions may facilitate new clinical avenues for biophotonic-based research. Thermal imaging technologies are being applied to the monitoring of (1) reproductive function in livestock; (2) mammary physiology in dairy cattle; and (3) measures of thermal comfort (e.g., energetics) and/or stress-related responses among mammals and avians in the production or natural environment. We have cooperated in mammalian (bovine and equine) research to determine the relevance of thermography in providing meaningful end-points of importance to production parameters. One study investigated the use of gradual weaning methods on behavior of calves during the weaning process compared with calves that continued to nurse. Thermography and remote locomotion monitoring devices proved instrumental in demonstrating that gradual weaning methods had no major influences on behavior or physiological parameters compared to continuous nursing behaviors. In summary, our accomplishments are yielding new research tools which have the potential to develop translatable technologies for an enhanced understanding of physiological processes to improve agricultural livestock production, health and/or overall profitability.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Greene, J.M., Dunaway, C.W., Bowers, S.D., Rude, B.J., Feugang, J.M., Ryan, P.L. 2011. Invivo monitoring of fetoplacental vegfr2 gene activity in a murine pregnancy model using a vegfr2 -luc reporter gene and bioluminescent imaging. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 9:51.

Feugang, J.M., Rodriguez-Munoz, J.C., Willard, S.T., Bathgate, R.A., Ryan, P.L. 2011. Examination of relaxin and its receptors expression in pig gametes and embryos. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 9(1):10.

Feugang, J.M., Greene, J.M., Willard, S.T., Ryan, P.L. 2011. In vitro effects of relaxin on gene expression in porcine cumulus ooxyte complexes and developing embryos. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 9(1):15

Ryan, P.L. 2011. Horse species symposium pathogenic and reproductive dysfunction in hourses. Journal of Animal Science. 89(5):1538-1540.

Ryan, P.L., Christiansen, D.L., Hopper, R.M., Walters, F.K., Moulton, K., Curbelo, J., Greene, J.M., Willard, S.T. 2011. A noval approach to monitoring pathogen progression during uterine and placental infection in the mare using biophotonic imaging technology and lux modified bacteria. Journal of Animal Science. 89:1-11.

Borazjani, A., Weed, B., Patnaik, S., Feugang, J.M., Christiansen, D., Elder, S., Ryan, P.L., Liao, J. 2011. A comparative biomechanical analysis of term fetal membranes in human and domestic species. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 204(5):365.e25-365.e36

Ryan, P.L., Greene, J.M., Christiansen, D., Hopper, R.M., Walters, F.K., Leblanc, M.M. 2010. Emerging diagnostic approaches for evaluation of fetal and pregnancy well-being in the mare. Society for Theriogenology Newsletter. 2(2):149-161.

Mochal, C.A., Miller, W.W., Colley, A.J., Linford, R.L., Ryan, P.L., Rashmir-Raven, A. 2010. Ocular findings in quarter horses with hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 237(3):304-310.

Burdick, N.C., Carroll, J.A., Randel, R.D., Willard, S.T., Vann, R.C., Chase, C.C., Lawhon, S.D., Hulbert, L.E., Welsh, T.H. 2011. Influence of temperament and transportation on physiological and endocrinological parameters in bulls. Livestock Science. 10:1016.

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page