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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory » Research » Research Project #441117

Research Project: Developing Improved Control Strategies for Avian Coccidosis

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32000-114-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 11, 2021
End Date: Oct 10, 2026

Objective 1: Develop improved vaccines and immunization strategies for chickens that are consistent with industry practices to provide lasting protection against coccidiosis. Subobjective 1a: Develop in-house vaccination of newly-placed broiler chicks using gelatin beads containing a mixture of Eimeria spp. oocysts. Subobjective 1b: Develop in ovo immunization of chickens against avian coccidiosis using recombinant Eimeria proteins linked to nanoparticles (NP). Objective 2: Characterize the molecular epidemiology of Eimeria on poultry farms to determine antigenic variation in and between farms and determine differences in pathogenicity of Eimeria strains for the targeted development of more efficacious therapeutic and preventive strategies. Objective 3: Sequence and annotate the genomes and transcriptomes of major Eimeria species, including characterizing genetic markers that allow for the development of drug resistance in Eimeria species.

Incorporate Eimeria oocysts into gelatin beads as a way to vaccinate day-old chickens against coccidiosis. Imunize chickens in ovo with recombinant Eimeria proteins that have been linked to nanoparticiles and then test for efficacy of vaccination by challenging chickens with Eimeria parasites. Evaluate the population structure of Eimeria on commercial poultry farms by collecting litter and processing for Eimeria oocysts followed by oocyst enumeration and molecular analyses to possibly identify virulent strains of the parasite that are responsible for necrotic enteritis and decreased performance. Obtain the complete genome sequence of the major Eimeria, specifically E. acervulina, E. maxima, and E. tenella. Attempt to isolate drug-resistant strains of Eimeria and compare the genome sequences of these to drug-sensitive strains to identify markers of drug resistance toward the goal of producing a rapid molecular test for anticoccidial drug resistance.