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Smallholder livestock systems in Central America are typically based on pastures with traditional grasses and associated management practices, such as pasture burning and extensive grazing. With the rise of the global population and a corresponding increase in demand for meat and milk production, research efforts have focused on the development of improved grasses and the incorporation of legume species that can increase productivity and sustainability of Central American livestock systems. However, farmer adoption remains very limited, in part due to the lack of site-specific evaluation and recommendations by local institutions. Using a multi-site participatory approach, this study examined the potential of five improved grasses and five species of forage legumes as alternatives to the broadly disseminated grass Hyparrhenia rufa (cv. Jaragua) in pasture-based cattle systems in western Honduras and northern El Salvador. Improved grasses (four Brachiaria sp. and Megathyrsus maximus) produced significantly more biomass than H. rufa; also four of the five legume varieties evaluated (Canavalia ensiformis, Canavalia brasiliensis, Vigna unguiculata, and Vigna radiata) demonstrated high adaptability to diverse environmental conditions across sites. Farmer participatory evaluation offers a valuable means to assess performance of forages and will likely contribute to their improved utilization. Future research is needed on more refined management recommendations, pasture system design, costs and environmental benefits associated with the adoption of these forages in local livestock production systems.
Inbreeding depression leads to the reduction of the mean phenotypic value. There has been a steady increase in inbreeding (F) in the UK since the introduction of reproductive techniques (AI, MOET). There has been an increase in the percent Holstein (%H) in the UK population due to the influx of North American Holstein genes. Crossing these Holsteins to British Friesians can result in the favourable effect of heterosis (het), whereby crossbred progeny out-perform the mid-parent mean for that trait. Of the heterosis in the F1 population, a proportion is lost due to recombination (rec) between parental line genes and is a measure of the epistatic interaction of genes. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of nonadditive genetic effects (F, het, rec, %H) on the estimation of dairy cow fertility breeding values in the UK.
Widespread international use of AI and best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP) breeding values for milk yield has increased genetic gain in many dairy populations, including the UK. The proliferation of few sires through AI and the coselection of relatives favoured by BLUP has however increased the relatedness and inbreeding of the UK population. Inbreeding is undesirable for a number of reasons and it is important to monitor the rate at which it accumulates. Currently, the level and rates of inbreeding (∆F) are not routinely reported for UK dairy cattle. Optimised selection procedures that maximise genetic gain while constraining ∆F to a pre-defined level have been shown to control ∆F and increase genetic gain over truncation selection at the same ∆F (e.g. Avendaño et al. 2003). The objective of this study was to determine the current rates of inbreeding and to assess the potential of using optimised selection procedures in the UK dairy population.
Vitamin E and selenium have been reported to improve immune function across a range of species. Ewes lambing on poor-quality dry pasture in autumn in Western Australia are at risk of being deficient in vitamin E and selenium at lambing thus predisposing their lambs to deficiencies and increasing the risk of infection and disease. This study tested the hypotheses that (i) supplementation of autumn-lambing ewes with vitamin E plus selenium in late gestation will increase the concentrations of vitamin E and selenium in plasma in the ewe and lamb and (ii) that the increased concentrations of vitamin E and selenium in plasma in the lambs will improve their innate and adaptive immune responses and thus survival. Pregnant Merino ewes were divided into a control group (n=58) which received no supplementation or a group supplemented with vitamin E plus selenium (n=55). On days 111, 125 and 140 of pregnancy ewes in the vitamin E plus selenium group were given 4 g all-rac-α-tocopherol acetate orally. On day 111 the ewes were also given 60 mg of selenium as barium selenate by subcutaneous injection. The concentrations of α-tocopherol and selenium were measured in ewes and/or lambs from day 111 of pregnancy to 14 weeks of age±10 days (weaning). Immune function of the lamb was assessed by analysing the numbers and phagocytic capacities of monocytes and polymorphonuclear leucocytes and plasma IgG and anti-tetanus toxoid antibody concentrations between birth and 14 weeks of age±10 days. Maternal supplementation with vitamin E plus selenium increased the concentration of α-tocopherol in plasma (1.13 v. 0.67 mg/l; P<0.001) and selenium in whole blood (0.12 v. 0.07 mg/l; P<0.01) of the ewes at lambing compared with controls. Supplementation also increased the concentration of α-tocopherol (0.14 v. 0.08 mg/l; P<0.001) and selenium (0.08 v. 0.05 mg/l; P<0.01) in lambs at birth compared with controls. There was no significant effect of supplementation on immune function or survival in the lambs.
In Ireland, National Clinical Programmes are being established to improve and standardise patient care throughout the Health Service Executive. In line with internationally recognised guidelines on the treatment of first episode psychosis the Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) programme is being drafted with a view to implementation by mental health services across the country. We undertook a review of patients presenting with a first episode of psychosis to the Dublin Southwest Mental Health Service before the implementation of the EIP. This baseline information will be used to measure the efficacy of our EIP programme.
Patients who presented with a first episode psychosis were retrospectively identified through case note reviews and consultation with treating teams. We gathered demographic and clinical information from patients as well as data on treatment provision over a 2-year period from the time of first presentation. Data included age at first presentation, duration of untreated psychosis, diagnosis, referral source, antipsychotic prescribing rates and dosing, rates of provision of psychological interventions and standards of physical healthcare monitoring. Outcome measures with regards to rates of admission over a 2-year period following initial presentation were also recorded.
In total, 66 cases were identified. The majority were male, single, unemployed and living with their family or spouse. The mean age at first presentation was 31 years with a mean duration of untreated psychosis of 17 months. Just under one-third were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Approximately half of the patients had no contact with a health service before presentation. The majority of patients presented through the emergency department. Two-thirds of all patients had a hospital admission within 2 years of presentation and almost one quarter of patients had an involuntary admission. The majority of patients were prescribed antipsychotic doses within recommended British National Formulary guidelines. Most patients received individual support through their keyworker and family intervention was provided in the majority of cases. Only a small number received formal Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. Physical healthcare monitoring was insufficiently recorded in the majority of patients.
There is a shortage of information on the profile and treatment of patients presenting with a first episode of psychosis in Ireland. This baseline information is important in evaluating the efficacy of any new programme for this patient group. Many aspects of good practice were identified within the service in particular with regards to the appropriate prescribing of antipsychotic medication and the rates of family intervention. Deficiencies remain however in the monitoring of physical health and the provision of formal psychological interventions to patients. With the implementation of an EIP programme it is hoped that service provision would improve nationwide and to internationally recognised standards.
Mesenchymal stem cell behavior can be regulated through mechanical signaling, either by dynamic loading or through biomaterial properties. We developed intrinsically responsive tissue engineering scaffolds that can dynamically load cells. Porous collagen- and alginate-based scaffolds were functionalized with iron oxide to produce magnetically active scaffolds. Reversible deformations in response to magnetic stimulation of up to 50% were recorded by tuning the material properties. Cells could attach to these scaffolds and magnetically induced compressive deformation did not adversely affect viability or cause cell release. This platform should have broad application in the mechanical stimulation of cells for tissue engineering applications.
Angus and Hereford beef is marketed internationally for apparent superior meat quality attributes; DNA-based breed authenticity could be a useful instrument to ensure consumer confidence on premium meat products. The objective of this study was to develop an ultra-low-density genotype panel to accurately quantify the Angus and Hereford breed proportion in biological samples. Medium-density genotypes (13 306 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)) were available on 54 703 commercial and 4042 purebred animals. The breed proportion of the commercial animals was generated from the medium-density genotypes and this estimate was regarded as the gold-standard breed composition. Ten genotype panels (100 to 1000 SNPs) were developed from the medium-density genotypes; five methods were used to identify the most informative SNPs and these included the Delta statistic, the fixation (Fst) statistic and an index of both. Breed assignment analyses were undertaken for each breed, panel density and SNP selection method separately with a programme to infer population structure using the entire 13 306 SNP panel (representing the gold-standard measure). Breed assignment was undertaken for all commercial animals (n=54 703), animals deemed to contain some proportion of Angus based on pedigree (n=5740) and animals deemed to contain some proportion of Hereford based on pedigree (n=5187). The predicted breed proportion of all animals from the lower density panels was then compared with the gold-standard breed prediction. Panel density, SNP selection method and breed all had a significant effect on the correlation of predicted and actual breed proportion. Regardless of breed, the Index method of SNP selection numerically (but not significantly) outperformed all other selection methods in accuracy (i.e. correlation and root mean square of prediction) when panel density was ⩾300 SNPs. The correlation between actual and predicted breed proportion increased as panel density increased. Using 300 SNPs (selected using the global index method), the correlation between predicted and actual breed proportion was 0.993 and 0.995 in the Angus and Hereford validation populations, respectively. When SNP panels optimised for breed prediction in one population were used to predict the breed proportion of a separate population, the correlation between predicted and actual breed proportion was 0.034 and 0.044 weaker in the Hereford and Angus populations, respectively (using the 300 SNP panel). It is necessary to include at least 300 to 400 SNPs (per breed) on genotype panels to accurately predict breed proportion from biological samples.
Information on the genetic diversity and population structure of cattle breeds is useful when deciding the most optimal, for example, crossbreeding strategies to improve phenotypic performance by exploiting heterosis. The present study investigated the genetic diversity and population structure of the most prominent dairy and beef breeds used in Ireland. Illumina high-density genotypes (777 962 single nucleotide polymorphisms; SNPs) were available on 4623 purebred bulls from nine breeds; Angus (n=430), Belgian Blue (n=298), Charolais (n=893), Hereford (n=327), Holstein-Friesian (n=1261), Jersey (n=75), Limousin (n=943), Montbéliarde (n=33) and Simmental (n=363). Principal component analysis revealed that Angus, Hereford, and Jersey formed non-overlapping clusters, representing distinct populations. In contrast, overlapping clusters suggested geographical proximity of origin and genetic similarity between Limousin, Simmental and Montbéliarde and to a lesser extent between Holstein, Friesian and Belgian Blue. The observed SNP heterozygosity averaged across all loci was 0.379. The Belgian Blue had the greatest mean observed heterozygosity (HO=0.389) among individuals within breed while the Holstein-Friesian and Jersey populations had the lowest mean heterozygosity (HO=0.370 and 0.376, respectively). The correlation between the genomic-based and pedigree-based inbreeding coefficients was weak (r=0.171; P<0.001). Mean genomic inbreeding estimates were greatest for Jersey (0.173) and least for Hereford (0.051). The pair-wise breed fixation index (Fst) ranged from 0.049 (Limousin and Charolais) to 0.165 (Hereford and Jersey). In conclusion, substantial genetic variation exists among breeds commercially used in Ireland. Thus custom-mating strategies would be successful in maximising the exploitation of heterosis in crossbreeding strategies.
Blood culture contamination (BCC) has been associated with unnecessary antibiotic use, additional laboratory tests and increased length of hospital stay thus incurring significant extra hospital costs. We set out to assess the impact of a staff educational intervention programme on decreasing intensive care unit (ICU) BCC rates to <3% (American Society for Microbiology standard). BCC rates during the pre-intervention period (January 2006–May 2011) were compared with the intervention period (June 2011–December 2012) using run chart and regression analysis. Monthly ICU BCC rates during the intervention period were reduced to a mean of 3·7%, compared to 9·5% during the baseline period (P < 0·001) with an estimated potential annual cost savings of about £250 100. The approach used was simple in design, flexible in delivery and efficient in outcomes, and may encourage its translation into clinical practice in different healthcare settings.
The objective of this study was to quantify the accuracy of imputing the genotype of parents using information on the genotype of their progeny and a family-based and population-based imputation algorithm. Two separate data sets were used, one containing both dairy and beef animals (n=3122) with high-density genotypes (735 151 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)) and the other containing just dairy animals (n=5489) with medium-density genotypes (51 602 SNPs). Imputation accuracy of three different genotype density panels were evaluated representing low (i.e. 6501 SNPs), medium and high density. The full genotypes of sires with genotyped half-sib progeny were masked and subsequently imputed. Genotyped half-sib progeny group sizes were altered from 4 up to 12 and the impact on imputation accuracy was quantified. Up to 157 and 258 sires were used to test the accuracy of imputation in the dairy plus beef data set and the dairy-only data set, respectively. The efficiency and accuracy of imputation was quantified as the proportion of genotypes that could not be imputed, and as both the genotype concordance rate and allele concordance rate. The median proportion of genotypes per animal that could not be imputed in the imputation process decreased as the number of genotyped half-sib progeny increased; values for the medium-density panel ranged from a median of 0.015 with a half-sib progeny group size of 4 to a median of 0.0014 to 0.0015 with a half-sib progeny group size of 8. The accuracy of imputation across different paternal half-sib progeny group sizes was similar in both data sets. Concordance rates increased considerably as the number of genotyped half-sib progeny increased from four (mean animal allele concordance rate of 0.94 in both data sets for the medium-density genotype panel) to five (mean animal allele concordance rate of 0.96 in both data sets for the medium-density genotype panel) after which it was relatively stable up to a half-sib progeny group size of eight. In the data set with dairy-only animals, sufficient sires with paternal half-sib progeny groups up to 12 were available and the within-animal mean genotype concordance rates continued to increase up to this group size. The accuracy of imputation was worst for the low-density genotypes, especially with smaller half-sib progeny group sizes but the difference in imputation accuracy between density panels diminished as progeny group size increased; the difference between high and medium-density genotype panels was relatively small across all half-sib progeny group sizes. Where biological material or genotypes are not available on individual animals, at least five progeny can be genotyped (on either a medium or high-density genotyping platform) and the parental alleles imputed with, on average, ⩾96% accuracy.
Dystocia and perinatal mortality are quantitative traits that significantly impact animal productivity and welfare. Their economic importance is reflected by their inclusion in the national breeding goals of many cattle populations. The genetic architecture that influences these traits, however, has still yet to be thoroughly defined. Regions of the bovine genome associated with calving difficulty (direct and maternal) and perinatal mortality were detected in this study using a Bayesian approach with 43 204 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on up to 1970 Holstein–Friesian bulls. Several SNPs on chromosomes 5, 6, 11, 12, 17,18 and 28 were detected to be strongly associated with these calving performance traits. Novel genomic regions with previously reported associations with growth, stature, birth weight and bone morphology were identified in the present study as being associated with the three calving performance traits. Morphological abnormalities are a known contributor to perinatal mortality and the most significantly associated SNP for perinatal mortality in the present study was located in a region in linkage disequilibrium with the gene SLC26A7. This gene, SLC26A7, has similarities and colocalises with SLC4A2, which has previously been associated with osteoporosis and mortality in cattle populations. The HHIP gene that is known to be associated with stature in humans was strongly associated with direct calving difficulty in the present study; large calves are known to, on average, have a greater likelihood of dystocia. A stemloop microRNA, bta-mir-1256, on chromosome 12, involved in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression was associated with maternal calving difficulty. Previously reported quantitative trait loci associated with calving performance traits in other populations were again identified in this study; with one genomic region on chromosome 18 supporting very strong evidence of an underlying causative mutation and accounting for 2.1% of the genetic variation in direct calving difficulty. Overlapping genomic regions associated with one or more of the calving traits were also detected substantiating the known genetic covariances existing between these traits. Moreover, some genomic regions were only associated with one of the calving traits implying the selective genomic breeding programs exploiting these regions could help resolve genetic antagonisms.