Veterinary Biosciences - Research Publications

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    A descriptive retrospective study on mortality and involuntary culling in beef and dairy cattle production systems of Western Australia (1981-2018)
    Aleri, JW ; Lyons, A ; Laurence, M ; Coiacetto, F ; Fisher, AD ; Stevenson, MA ; Irons, PC ; Robertson, ID (WILEY, 2021-06-24)
    Identifying and quantifying the relative frequency of involuntary losses is an essential first step in developing fit-for-purpose herd health programmes. The objective of this study was to provide an estimate of the relative frequency of reasons for mortality among south-west Western Australian beef and dairy cattle, based on necropsy findings from a university-based veterinary pathology referral centre over 38 years. A total of 904 cattle were submitted for postmortem examination throughout the study period. Gastrointestinal, cardiopulmonary and reproductive conditions were the most common causes of mortality in cattle submitted for necropsy at Murdoch University for the period 1981-2018. In dairy cattle, the common problems were gastrointestinal (bloat, abomasal displacements) 18% (59/320), cardiovascular (traumatic reticulo-pericarditis) 9% (30/320) and respiratory conditions (pneumonia) 8% (27/320). In beef cattle, the most common conditions were gastrointestinal (bloat, rumen acidosis) 11% (39/358), reproductive (metritis) 11% (38/358), cardiovascular (traumatic reticulo-pericarditis) 7% (25/358), respiratory (pneumonia) 7% (24/358), lameness (fractures) 6%, (21/358) and hepatobiliary conditions (blue-green algae poisoning, hepatotoxicity) 6% (21/358). Selection bias and missing data were potential confounders in this study. Although necropsy investigations provide useful information on animal mortalities and avenues for future herd health programmes, there is a need to standardise data capture methods and disease definition criteria, and conduct more detailed recording of data both at the farm level and at necropsy diagnostic centres.
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    Crystal structure of a GDP-6-OMe-4-keto-L-xylo-heptose reductase from Campylobacter jejuni
    Kim, J-H ; Hofmann, A ; Kim, J-S (WILEY, 2021-04-12)
    Carbohydrates play a major role in infection strategies of various enteric pathogens. In Campylobacter jejuni, the most common cause of gastroenteritis, uniquely modified heptoses found in surface carbohydrates are synthesized by specific pathways. Owing to the importance of such pathways for the infectious potential of pathogens and/or their virulence, these biosynthesis pathways present potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we determined the crystal structure of GDP-6-OMe-4-keto-L-xylo-heptose reductase (MlghC), an enzyme within the L-gluco-heptose synthesis pathway of C. jejuni strain NCTC 11168. This enzyme lacks the canonical tyrosine residue of the conserved catalytic Ser-Lys-Tyr triad commonly found among functionally related reductases. Despite adopting the overall two-domain fold shared with other short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase family members, subtle structural differences in the interface between the cofactor- and substrate-binding domains explain the absence of epimerase activity and different substrate specificity of this reductase. Modeling of the product-bound complex based on the crystal structure presented here suggests that a tyrosine residue unique to MlghC replaces the missing canonical residue of the catalytic triad.
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    The occurrence of multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis from patients of pulmonary tuberculosis.
    Iqbal, A ; Shafique, M ; Zahoor, MA ; Muzammil, S ; Nawaz, Z ; Jabbar, A ; Khurshid, M ; Hussain, R ; Islam, MA ; Almatroudi, A ; Allemailem, KS ; Rasool, MH ; Aslam, B (Journal of Infection in Developing Countries, 2022-04-30)
    INTRODUCTION: Multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is one of the leading causes of death in the world. The resource constraints make it difficult to diagnose and monitor the cases of MDR-TB. GeneXpert is a recognized tool used to diagnose the patients of pulmonary tuberculosis in clinical settings across the globe. METHODOLOGY: The present one-year cross-sectional study was conducted to estimate the occurrence of MDR-TB in patients with pulmonary TB. A total of 1000 patients suspected of pulmonary tuberculosis were included in this study. A random convenient sampling technique was done to collect the sputum samples (twice) from the patients. Samples were processed for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis using conventional detection methods like the Ziehl Nelson staining method and fluorescent microscopy. Additionally, Cepheid GeneXpert was used for molecular detection of MDR-TB in smear-positive samples of pulmonary tuberculosis by amplifying the rifampicin resistance determining region (RRDR; rpoB gene). All the tests were performed in the biosafety level III lab of District Headquarters Hospital Nankana Sahib. RESULTS: It was observed that 103 (10.3%) individuals were diagnosed as positive for tuberculosis among 1000 patients. Among these 103 TB positive cases, there were 11 (10.7%) patients diagnosed with rifampicin resistance gene (RR-Gene) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. CONCLUSIONS: Overall findings of the study showed that MDR-TB is prevalent in pulmonary TB patients and GeneXpert is the most sensitive technique for early diagnosis of the disease, which may be very helpful in the treatment and control of this public health menace in low and middle-income countries.
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    Using quantitative PCR to identify opportunities to strengthen soil-transmitted helminth control in Solomon Islands: A cross-sectional epidemiological survey.
    Le, B ; Clarke, N ; Hii, SF ; Byrne, A ; Zendejas-Heredia, PA ; Lake, S ; Sokana, O ; Khattak, A ; Romani, L ; Engelman, D ; Nasi, T ; Boara, D ; Kaldor, J ; Steer, A ; Traub, R ; Nery, SV ; Mitreva, M (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2022-05)
    BACKGROUND: The Kato-Katz microscopy technique is the global standard for assessment of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) burden. However, major limitations include its poor sensitivity, requirement for rapid sample processing, and inability to differentiate hookworm species nor detect Strongyloides spp. infections. We assessed the prevalence and intensity of STH species in Solomon Islands by conducting a province-wide survey using quantitative PCR (qPCR) for diagnosis, which can provide much better characterisation of STH burden than microscopy. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey in 18 villages in Western Province to detect infections with six STH species and quantify intensity with three. We used linear mixed model regression to identify potential water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and environmental risk factors for infection. We collected stool specimens from 830 village residents. Overall STH prevalence was 63.3% (range 27.5 to 91.5% across villages), led by Necator americanus (54.5% [range 17.5-89.4%]), followed by Ancylostoma ceylanicum (15.5% [range 2.8-45.8%]), Trichuris trichiura (9.1% [range 0-79.2%]), and Strongyloides spp. (3.2% [range 0-29.2%]). Most infections were of light intensity for N. americanus (85.7%) and T. trichiura (90.7%). Owning a household latrine was associated with a lower risk of N. americanus infection (AOR 0.41, 95% CI 0.24-0.68) while greater precipitation was linked to more common T. trichiura infection (AOR 1.14, 95% CI 1.04-1.25). CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: In this first large-scale population survey of STH in the Pacific using qPCR, we found evidence that ivermectin should be incorporated into STH control programmes because of the presence of T. trichiura and Strongyloides spp., both of which are poorly responsive to albendazole. Furthermore, One Health strategies are needed for improved A. ceylanicum and Strongyloides spp. control, WASH access and use should be improved to complement deworming programmes, and control efforts should ideally be expanded to entire communities. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12618001086257.
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    3, 2, 1, go! Cryptosporidium counts down to sex.
    Jex, AR ; Tonkin, CJ ; Ralph, SA (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2022-05)
    Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of death from childhood diarrhea, but its biology is poorly understood. A recent study in PLOS Biology reveals hitherto unknown aspects of the parasite's life cycle that may lead to improvements in ex vivo culture.
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    An assessment of ectoparasites across highland and lowland populations of Leadbeater's possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri): Implications for genetic rescue translocations.
    Steventon, C ; Harley, D ; Wicker, L ; Legione, AR ; Devlin, JM ; Hufschmid, J (Elsevier BV, 2022-08)
    Leadbeater's possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) is a nocturnal arboreal marsupial with a restricted range centered on the Victorian Central Highlands, south-eastern Australia. Most populations inhabit wet montane ash forest and subalpine woodland, with one notable exception - a small, outlying and genetically-distinct lowland population inhabiting swamp forest at Yellingbo, Victoria. The species has been listed as critically endangered since 2015. Translocations are the mainstay of critical genetic rescue and this study explores the ectoparasites that are 'along for the ride' during translocation activities. Ectoparasites (133 fleas, 15 ticks and 76 mites) were collected opportunistically from 24 Leadbeater's possum colonies during population monitoring and genetic sampling across the lowland and highland populations. The composition of the flea assemblage varied by habitat type. Significantly greater numbers of the general marsupial fleas Acanthopsylla r. rothschildii. and Choristopsylla tristis (as a proportion of total flea numbers) were detected in lowland habitats, compared to highland habitats (Fishers exact test, P < 0.0001). Two host-specific flea species, Stephanocircus domrowi and Wurunjerria warnekei were detected only on possums in highland habitats. As a proportion of total fleas this was significantly different to possums in lowland habitats (Fisher's exact test, P = 0.0042 and P < 0.0001, respectively). Wurunjerria warnekei was suspected to be extinct prior to this study. Ticks (Ixodes tasmanii, n = 15) and mites (Haemdoelaps cleptus, n = 47 and H. anticlea, n = 29) have been identified in Leadbeater's possums historically. The possible causes of the different flea assemblages may be environmental/climatic, or due to the historic geographic division between highland and lowland animals. The planned translocations of highland individuals to lowland habitats will expose lowland individuals to novel species of previously exclusively highland fleas with unknown indirect consequences, thus careful monitoring will be required to manage any potential risks.
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    iFeatureOmega: an integrative platform for engineering, visualization and analysis of features from molecular sequences, structural and ligand data sets
    Chen, Z ; Liu, X ; Zhao, P ; Li, C ; Wang, Y ; Li, F ; Akutsu, T ; Bain, C ; Gasser, RB ; Li, J ; Yang, Z ; Gao, X ; Kurgan, L ; Song, J (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2022-05-07)
    The rapid accumulation of molecular data motivates development of innovative approaches to computationally characterize sequences, structures and functions of biological and chemical molecules in an efficient, accessible and accurate manner. Notwithstanding several computational tools that characterize protein or nucleic acids data, there are no one-stop computational toolkits that comprehensively characterize a wide range of biomolecules. We address this vital need by developing a holistic platform that generates features from sequence and structural data for a diverse collection of molecule types. Our freely available and easy-to-use iFeatureOmega platform generates, analyzes and visualizes 189 representations for biological sequences, structures and ligands. To the best of our knowledge, iFeatureOmega provides the largest scope when directly compared to the current solutions, in terms of the number of feature extraction and analysis approaches and coverage of different molecules. We release three versions of iFeatureOmega including a webserver, command line interface and graphical interface to satisfy needs of experienced bioinformaticians and less computer-savvy biologists and biochemists. With the assistance of iFeatureOmega, users can encode their molecular data into representations that facilitate construction of predictive models and analytical studies. We highlight benefits of iFeatureOmega based on three research applications, demonstrating how it can be used to accelerate and streamline research in bioinformatics, computational biology, and cheminformatics areas. The iFeatureOmega webserver is freely available at http://ifeatureomega.erc.monash.edu and the standalone versions can be downloaded from https://github.com/Superzchen/iFeatureOmega-GUI/ and https://github.com/Superzchen/iFeatureOmega-CLI/.
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    Kathmandu Declaration on Cysticercosis : Towards Eradication
    Pant, B ; Onta, S ; Nath Pyakurel, S ; Man Karmacharya, B ; Kumar Nirmal, B ; Flisser, A ; Lightowlers, M (Annapurna Neurological Institute & Allied Sciences, 2021-02-10)
    In December 2018, an international conference on cysticercosis was held in Kathmandu,Nepal with the theme, “Towards Eradication”. With the collaboration and participation of human-health and animal-health related organizations, the culmination of this event was the Kathmandu Declaration on cysticercosisrealizing an urgency to take action for its prevention and management.Of the 10 points mentioned in the declaration, all of the keynote speakers and participants on the conference endorsed the activities on commitment for eliminating cysticercosis, urgedthe government to internalize its primary responsibility and role in controlling cysticercosis, and called for the stakeholders for multisectoral collaboration. The authors believe that this declaration and further action definitely strive towards meeting the theme of the conference to eradicate cysticercosis with
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    Chromosome-level genome of Schistosoma haematobium underpins genome-wide explorations of molecular variation
    Stroehlein, AJ ; Korhonen, PK ; Lee, VV ; Ralph, SA ; Mentink-Kane, M ; You, H ; McManus, DP ; Tchuente, L-AT ; Stothard, JR ; Kaur, P ; Dudchenko, O ; Aiden, EL ; Yang, B ; Yang, H ; Emery, AM ; Webster, BL ; Brindley, PJ ; Rollinson, D ; Chang, BCH ; Gasser, RB ; Young, ND ; Zamanian, M (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2022-02-01)
    Urogenital schistosomiasis is caused by the blood fluke Schistosoma haematobium and is one of the most neglected tropical diseases worldwide, afflicting > 100 million people. It is characterised by granulomata, fibrosis and calcification in urogenital tissues, and can lead to increased susceptibility to HIV/AIDS and squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder. To complement available treatment programs and break the transmission of disease, sound knowledge and understanding of the biology and ecology of S. haematobium is required. Hybridisation/introgression events and molecular variation among members of the S. haematobium-group might effect important biological and/or disease traits as well as the morbidity of disease and the effectiveness of control programs including mass drug administration. Here we report the first chromosome-contiguous genome for a well-defined laboratory line of this blood fluke. An exploration of this genome using transcriptomic data for all key developmental stages allowed us to refine gene models (including non-coding elements) and annotations, discover 'new' genes and transcription profiles for these stages, likely linked to development and/or pathogenesis. Molecular variation within S. haematobium among some geographical locations in Africa revealed unique genomic 'signatures' that matched species other than S. haematobium, indicating the occurrence of introgression events. The present reference genome (designated Shae.V3) and the findings from this study solidly underpin future functional genomic and molecular investigations of S. haematobium and accelerate systematic, large-scale population genomics investigations, with a focus on improved and sustained control of urogenital schistosomiasis.
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    Global health security must embrace a One Health approach: Contributions and experiences of veterinarians during the COVID-19 response in Australia
    Steele, SG ; Toribio, J-ALML ; Mor, SM (ELSEVIER, 2021-08-24)
    SARS-CoV-2, a betacoronavirus of likely zoonotic origin, was first reported in December 2019. Its rapid worldwide spread precipitated a range of interventions, including by veterinarians, due to impacts on human health and well-being as well as animal health and welfare. We conducted 36 key informant interviews to explore the responses of Australian veterinarians, their engagement in One Health collaboration and cooperation, and their existing and developed insights to the COVID-19 pandemic. Responses were analysed using thematic analysis. Australian veterinarians provided valuable contributions to the national COVID-19 response by protecting animal welfare, maintaining local food security, providing essential veterinary services while mitigating human health risks in clinical settings and providing both key skills and surge capacity to the human health response. This was all guided by skills in scientific literacy and evidence-based communication. Informants identified a clear and urgent need for greater One Health coordination during pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, even in the case of a disease which largely only affects humans.