(1/1610) The importance of genetic diversity in livestock populations of the future.

Farm animal genetic diversity is required to meet current production needs in various environments, to allow sustained genetic improvement, and to facilitate rapid adaptation to changing breeding objectives. Production efficiency in pastoral species is closely tied to the use of diverse genetic types, but greater genetic uniformity has evolved in intensively raised species. In poultry, breeding decisions are directed by a few multinational companies and involve intense selection, the use of distinct production lines, and very large populations. In dairy cattle, the Holstein breed dominates production. Intensive sire selection is leading to relatively rapid inbreeding rates and raises questions about long-term effects of genetic drift. Key questions in management of farm animal genetic diversity involve the distribution of potentially useful quantitative trait locus alleles among global livestock breeds. Experiments with tomato, maize, and mice suggest that favorable alleles can exist in otherwise lowly productive stocks; this cryptic variation may potentially contribute to future selection response. Genetic improvement under relatively intense unidirectional selection may involve both increases in the frequency of favorable additive alleles as well as the progressive breakdown of homeostatic regulatory mechanisms established under the stabilizing selection that is characteristic of natural populations. Recombination among closely linked regulatory loci and new, potentially favorable mutations are possible sources of long-term genetic variation. A greater understanding of the potential that these alternative mechanisms have for supporting long-term genetic improvement and of genetic relationships among global livestock populations are priorities for managing farm animal genetic diversity.  (+info)

(2/1610) Mechanical maceration of alfalfa.

Maceration is an intensive forage-conditioning process that can increase field drying rates by as much as 300%. Because maceration shreds the forage and reduces its rigidity, improvements in bulk density, silage compaction, and ensiling characteristics have been observed. Macerating forage also increases the surface area available for microbial attachment in the rumen, thereby increasing forage digestibility and animal performance. Feeding trials with sheep have shown increases in DMI of 5 to 31% and increases in DM digestibility of from 14 to 16 percentage units. Lactation studies have demonstrated increases in milk production and BW gain for lactating Holstein cows; however, there is a consistent decrease in milk fat percentage when dairy cattle are fed macerated forage. In vitro studies have shown that maceration decreases lag time associated with NDF digestion and increases rate of NDF digestion. In situ digestibility studies have shown that maceration increases the size of the instantly soluble DM pool and decreases lag time associated with NDF digestion, but it may not consistently alter the rate or extent of DM and NDF digestion.  (+info)

(3/1610) The Parkes Lecture. Heat and the testis.

The evidence for the lower temperature of the testes of many mammals is summarized, and the reasons suggested for the descent of the testes into a scrotum are discussed. Descriptions are given of the various techniques used for studying the effects of heat on the testis, whole body heating, local heating of the testes (by inducing cryptorchidism, scrotal insulation or immersion of the scrotum in a water bath), and heating of tissue or cell preparations in vitro. The effects of heat are discussed, effects on the testis (weight, histology, physiology, biochemistry and endocrinology), on the numbers and motility of spermatozoa in rete testis fluid and semen, on fertilizing ability of spermatozoa and on the subsequent development of the embryos produced when spermatozoa from heated testes are used to fertilize normal ova. The possible mechanisms for the damaging effects of heat are discussed, as well as the importance of heat-induced abnormalities in male reproduction in domestic animals and humans.  (+info)

(4/1610) The role of domestic factors and day-care attendance on lung function of primary school children.

The results of studies examining the relationship of domestic factors to lung function are contradictory. We therefore examined the independent effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), the presence of a cat, type of heating and cooking used in the home and day-care attendance on lung function after controlling for socioeconomic status (SES). Nine hundred and eighty-nine children from 18 Montreal schools were studied between April 1990 and November 1992. Information on the child's health and exposure to domestic factors was collected by questionnaire. Spirometry was performed at school. The data were analysed by multiple linear regression with percent predicted FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC as dependent variables. In the overall sample (both sexes combined), cat in the home (regression coefficient, beta = -1.15, 95% confidence interval, CI: -2.26-(-)0.05) and electric baseboard units (beta = -1.26, 95% CI: -2.39-(-)0.13) were independently associated with a lower FEV1/FVC, while day-care attendance (beta = -2.05, 95% CI: -3.71-(-)0.40) significantly reduced FEV1. Household ETS was significantly associated with increasing level of FVC (beta = 2.86, 95% CI: +0.55 to +5.17). In boys but not girls, household ETS (beta = -2.13, 95% CI: -4.07-(-)0.19) and the presence of a cat (beta = -2.19, 95% CI: -3.94-(-)0.45) were associated with lower FEV1/FVC. By contrast, day-care attendance was associated with lower FEV1 (beta = -2.92, 95% CI: -5.27-(-)0.56) and FEV1/FVC (beta = -1.53, 95% CI: -2.73-(-)0.33) in girls only. In conclusion, the results provide evidence that domestic factors and day-care attendance primarily affected airway caliber and gender differences were apparent in the effects of these factors.  (+info)

(5/1610) Pathogenesis of cancrum oris (noma): confounding interactions of malnutrition with infection.

This study showed that impoverished Nigerian children at risk for cancrum oris (noma) had significantly reduced plasma concentrations of zinc (< 10.8 micromol/L), retinol (< 1.05 micromol/L), ascorbate (< 11 micromol/L), and the essential amino acids, with prominently increased plasma and saliva levels of free cortisol, compared with their healthy counterparts. The nutrient deficiencies, in concert with previously reported widespread viral infections (measles, herpesviruses) in the children, would impair oral mucosal immunity. We postulate, subject to additional studies, that evolution of the oral mucosal ulcers including acute necrotizing gingivitis to noma is triggered by a consortium of microorganisms of which Fusobacterium necrophorum is a key component. Fusobacterium necrophorum elaborates several dermonecrotic toxic metabolites and is acquired by the impoverished children via fecal contamination resulting from shared residential facilities with animals and very poor environmental sanitation.  (+info)

(6/1610) Preventing zoonotic diseases in immunocompromised persons: the role of physicians and veterinarians.

We surveyed physicians and veterinarians in Wisconsin about the risk for and prevention of zoonotic diseases in immunocompromised persons. We found that physicians and veterinarians hold significantly different views about the risks posed by certain infectious agents and species of animals and communicate very little about zoonotic issues; moreover, physicians believe that veterinarians should be involved in many aspects of zoonotic disease prevention, including patient education.  (+info)

(7/1610) A 105- to 94-kilodalton protein in the epididymal fluids of domestic mammals is angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE); evidence that sperm are the source of this ACE.

SDS-PAGE analysis of luminal fluid from the ram testis and epididymis revealed a protein of about 105 kDa in the fluid in the caput epididymal region. The molecular mass of this fluid protein shifted from 105 kDa to 94 kDa in the distal caput epididymidis and remained at 94 kDa in the lower regions of the epididymis. The possible sperm origin of this protein was suggested by the decrease in intensity of a 105-kDa compound on the sperm plasma membrane extract and by its total disappearance from the fluid of animals with impaired sperm production caused by scrotal heating. The 94-kDa protein was purified from ram cauda epididymal fluid, and a rabbit polyclonal antiserum was obtained. This antiserum showed that membranes of testicular sperm and sperm from the initial caput were positive for the presence of an immunologically related antigen. The protein was immunolocalized mainly on the flagellar intermediate piece, whereas in some corpus and caudal sperm, only the apical ridge of the acrosomal vesicle was labeled. The purified protein was microsequenced: its N-terminal was not found in the sequence database, but its tryptic fragments matched the sequence of the angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE). Indeed, the purified 94-kDa protein exhibited a carboxypeptidase activity inhibited by specific blockers of ACE. All the soluble seminal plasma ACE activity in the ram was attributable to the 94-kDa epididymal fluid ACE. The polyclonal antiserum also showed that a soluble form of ACE appeared specifically in the caput epididymal fluid of the boar, stallion, and bull. This soluble form was responsible for all the ACE activity observed in the fluid from the distal caput to the cauda epididymidis in these species. Our results strongly suggest that the epididymal fluid ACE derives from the germinal form of ACE that is liberated from the testicular sperm in a specific epididymal area.  (+info)

(8/1610) La roca magica: uses of natural zeolites in agriculture and industry.

For nearly 200 years since their discovery in 1756, geologists considered the zeolite minerals to occur as fairly large crystals in the vugs and cavities of basalts and other traprock formations. Here, they were prized by mineral collectors, but their small abundance and polymineralic nature defied commercial exploitation. As the synthetic zeolite (molecular sieve) business began to take hold in the late 1950s, huge beds of zeolite-rich sediments, formed by the alteration of volcanic ash (glass) in lake and marine waters, were discovered in the western United States and elsewhere in the world. These beds were found to contain as much as 95% of a single zeolite; they were generally flat-lying and easily mined by surface methods. The properties of these low-cost natural materials mimicked those of many of their synthetic counterparts, and considerable effort has made since that time to develop applications for them based on their unique adsorption, cation-exchange, dehydration-rehydration, and catalytic properties. Natural zeolites (i.e., those found in volcanogenic sedimentary rocks) have been and are being used as building stone, as lightweight aggregate and pozzolans in cements and concretes, as filler in paper, in the take-up of Cs and Sr from nuclear waste and fallout, as soil amendments in agronomy and horticulture, in the removal of ammonia from municipal, industrial, and agricultural waste and drinking waters, as energy exchangers in solar refrigerators, as dietary supplements in animal diets, as consumer deodorizers, in pet litters, in taking up ammonia from animal manures, and as ammonia filters in kidney-dialysis units. From their use in construction during Roman times, to their role as hydroponic (zeoponic) substrate for growing plants on space missions, to their recent success in the healing of cuts and wounds, natural zeolites are now considered to be full-fledged mineral commodities, the use of which promise to expand even more in the future.  (+info)