Location: Research Programs2022 Annual Report
The Agrosecurity Partnerships for Innovative Research (ASPIRE) Program provides the framework by which NBAF will enhance America’s agricultural biosecurity by forming strategic partnerships to support the NBAF Strategic Plan and National Biodefense Strategy. This includes facilitating regional, national, and international collaborations, performing research gap analyses and capability assessments, creation of research and response networks, spurring innovation and enhancing participation of underrepresented populations within the animal-health scientific enterprise.
The goal of National Program 103, Animal Health, is to protect and ensure the safety of the Nation’s agriculture and food supply through improved disease detection, prevention, and control. Basic and applied research approaches will be applied to solve animal health problems of high national priority. The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) will take over the mission of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) and be the ARS lead facility for Foreign Animal Disease research. NBAF will 1) provide solutions to problems associated with the control, eradication, and recovery of foreign and emerging diseases, and 2) maintain a portfolio of expertise that will allow ARS to rapidly respond to new and unforeseen disease threats. The research addresses the following research components in the 2022-2027 Animal Health National Program (NP 103) Action Plan: 1) Component 1: Biodefense, Problem Statement 1A, Control and eradicate foreign animal diseases and Problem Statement 1B: Predict and prevent emerging diseases. Further, the research addresses ARS Strategic Plan Goal 4.3 to protect and ensure the safety of the nation’s agriculture and food supply through improved disease detection, prevention, and control.
Objective 1. The Agrosecurity Partnerships for Innovative Research (ASPIRE) Program provides the framework by which ARS in Manhattan, Kansas, will enhance America’s agricultural biosecurity by forming strategic partnerships to support the ARS’s strategic plan and National Biodefense Strategy. This includes facilitating regional, national, and international collaborations, performing research gap analyses and capability assessments, the creation of research and response networks, spurring innovation and enhancing the participation of underrepresented populations within the animal-health scientific enterprise. A partnership was established with the Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), at Texas Tech University for the following project: Detection and Characterization of Arboviruses and Environmental Influences on Transmission at the U.S. Wildlife and Livestock Interface. Activities conducted by TIEHH researchers directly in support the project objective, included ordering of primers and probes for Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) and Rift Valley Fever virus (RVFV), and screening of mammalian and arthropod tissues and specimens. The TIEHH research team coordinated with a local private ranch owner to opportunistically collect post-mortem blood and tissue samples during a feral swine population reduction operation. Tissue samples were processed and stored in formaldehyde and frozen. Feral swine samples will be screened for JEV. A cell culture room has been established in the TIEHH biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) laboratory for support of this project. Additionally, mosquito samples in Lubbock County will be screened for JEV. A partnership was developed to better understand the epidemiology of Heartwater and to assess the risk of expansion of this disease and its vector, within the Caribbean region and beyond. Due to recruitment delays the initiation of the project has just been initiated. Two well-qualified graduate students have been identified to carry out the research and are currently receiving training in the required skills.
1. System for screening wildlife for viruses. The transmission of pathogens between wildlife and domestic animals is a poorly understood threat to the prevention and control of infectious diseases. To develop new systems to better understand the maintenance and transmission of insect-transmitted viruses at the interface of wildlife and livestock in the United States, researchers at Texas Tech University, in collaboration with ARS researchers in Manhattan, Kansas, established a system to collect bio samples from feral swine and screen them for selected foreign viruses using molecular techniques. This system will provide baseline information on circulating viruses and support efforts on early detection and warning for viral pathogens.