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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit » Research » Research Project #444253

Research Project: Biophotonics – Emerging Imaging Technologies for Food Animal Research

Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

Project Number: 6066-31320-017-002-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2023
End Date: Jun 30, 2028

1. Develop approaches for cellular and tissue biophotonic imaging using nanoparticles and/or photon emitting technologies. 2. Investigate paternal contributions and/or environmental variations in conceptus developmental and subsequent offspring survivability, health, and growth. 3. Improve animal health using biophotonic sensors to monitor physiologic processes and disease resurgence, and develop nanoparticles as an alternative to antibiotic use.

For Objective 1, the cooperator outlines two approaches to for cellular and tissue biophotonic imaging. Firstly, the cooperator will evaluate oocyte environment for seasonality variation and developmental competence. Using mares as a model organism we will biopsy follicle walls during different seasons and isolate microvesicles for analysis. Secondly, the cooperator will develop animal model organoid systems related to reproductive and nutrient transferring tissues to better model in vivo physiological and biochemical properties. For this approach, mammary biopsies will be collected from cattle, parenchyma digested, and glandular fractions pelleted. Epithelial organoids will be cultured and expanded in 3D culture systems for further biochemical analysis. For objective 2, the cooperator outlines three approaches to investigate paternal contributions and/or environmental variations in conceptus developmental programming. Firstly, paternal programming will be evaluated by subjecting embryo transfer recipients to uterine priming with seminal plasma or no uterine priming. Offspring phenotypes will be examined postnatally to ascertain seminal plasma roles in developmental programming. Secondly, the cooperator will determine the effects of a compromised bovine vaginal microbiome at parturition on dam performance and neonatal outcomes. For this study, cattle will be treated with vaginal betadine lavages prior to calving to determine dam and neonatal performance following disruption of the vaginal microbiome. Thirdly, the cooperator will determine mitochondria patterns in gametes and implications to embryo-fetal development. The cooperator will use modern and advanced technological tools to characterize the mitochondria pool of oocytes, spermatozoa, preimplantation embryos, and fetuses. For objective 3, the cooperator outlines four approaches to improve animal health using biophotonic sensors to monitor physiologic processes and disease resurgence. Firstly, the cooperator will utilize antibiotic alternatives for fresh bull and boar semen preparations in comparison to traditional methods. Secondly, the cooperator will use bioluminescence monitoring of intravaginal drug delivery to reduce incidence of calving difficulty in cattle. For this study, the cooperator will use an aerosolized approach for the local delivery of a synthetic relaxin mRNA to bovine and ovine vaginal/cervical mucosa. Thirdly, the cooperator will use photonic imaging for rapid diagnosis of disease. For this approach, coupling the NIRS photonics data with modeling equations, we aim to detect the earliest possible metabolic changes in the biofluids of animals that will later progress to a diseased state. Fourthly, the cooperator will use photonic imaging for improved reproductive efficiency. This approach will utilize NIRS to expedite analysis of various reproductive parameters by rapidly profiling the biochemical condition of reproductive cells, tissues and organisms, and track the changes in animal systems as they progress through the reproductive cycle or are challenged by external factors such as the external environment, the microbiome, or disease insults.