Animal Health Research
Dr. Udaya DeSilva
We are interested in functional genomics of adipogenesis in cattle and metagenomics of rumen and other intestinal microflora.
Dr. Blake Wilson
Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is the most significant production problem for the beef industry, accounting for the majority of morbidity, mortality, and decreased production in feedlot cattle with estimated annual economic losses in excess of $2 billion. The disease is an extremely complex illness and a multitude of stressors, viruses, and bacterial pathogens can potentially contribute to the onset of BRD. Identifying and understanding the various risk factors associated with BRD incidence, especially those risk factors influenced by nutrition, metabolism, and animal management will aid in BRD prevention. More specifically, this research will increase our ability to determine why certain animals are more likely to become sick with BRD compared to others and improve the nutritional and management programs for animals that are at a high risk of becoming ill due to BRD. This knowledge will allow cattle producers to better manage beef cattle production systems to reduce overall BRD incidence and BRD related mortality across all market sectors.
My research activities focus on improving our understanding BRD complex and the relationships between the various risk factors for BRD and actual disease occurrence. Multiple research experiments will evaluate nutritional, metabolic, and management interventions as methods to reduce BRD incidence and improve our understanding of the development and pathogenesis of the disease. The primary impact of this research will be to increase our knowledge of the BRD complex and the nutritional, metabolic, and animal management interventions that can be employed to reduce BRD incidence. By understanding the relationship between BRD and the various risk factors for the disease, cattle producers will be able to reduce production losses and improve the profitability of their operations through the implementation of various intervention strategies.
Dr. Glenn Zhang
Now with the use of medically important antibiotics being banned for growth promotion in livestock animals in the U.S., more effective alternatives to antibiotics are urgently needed to ensure animal health and productivity. Dr. Zhang’s group is in pursuit of two different approaches to the development of novel antibiotic alternatives by employing a series of the state-of-the-art technologies in molecular immunology, functional genomics, metagenomics, and bioinformatics. One approach is to modulate the synthesis of endogenous host defense peptides (HDPs) with the goal to develop HDP-inducing dietary compounds for disease control and prevention ("Modulating Innate Host Defense"). The second approach is to manipulate the structure and function of intestinal microbiota for optimal health and production efficiency.