- Coussens, Paul (molecular pathogenesis, immunobiology, functional genomics)
- Rust, Steven (beef nutrition and feedlot management, carcass quality)
- Yokoyama, Melvin (rumen and gastrointestinal microbiology, manure management)
Paul M. Coussens, Professor
Principal Investigator, Molecular Pathogenesis Laboratory
Depts. Animal Science and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Chris Colvin, Research Technician and Laboratory Coordinator
The Molecular Pathogenesis Laboratory (MPL) focuses on the nature, cause, and host response to infectious diseases in livestock species. As many of the pathogens of importance to livestock species are zoonotics, our work often has biomedical implications, as well as relevance to animal health. Pathogens currently under study with a network of national and international collaborators include Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease), M. bovis (bovine tuberculosis), bovine viral diarrhea virus, Brucella abortus, and several parasitic diseases in cattle. Work within the MPL is aided by an outstanding base of state-of-the-art equipment and tools for functional genomics. Although highly molecular in our approach to studying pathogenesis, all students in the MPL work with the appropriate host species, gaining experience in sampling and recognizing the effects of infectious disease. Students within the MPL also have ample opportunities for travel to multiple international laboratories of our collaborators during their course of study.
Our research activities have been focused on feeding and management strategies to improve growth, efficiency and carcass quality of feedlot cattle. We have conducted several studies on the use of Propionibacterium as a starter culture for ensiling high-moisture corn and its use as a direct-fed additive to feedlot diets. Dr. rust is a co-author for two patents on this technology. Another area of current research includes feeding and management strategies to lessen the occurrence and severity of acidosis in cattle fed high concentrate diets. Probiotics or direct-fed microbials may provide some assistance in managing subacute acidosis. Studies are currently being conducted to develop strategies to minimize methane production in cattle. Various inhibitor type compounds have been investigated. The impact of implants, age and cattle type on profitability, tenderness and palatability is also a current research activity. Evaluation of corn hybrids and endosperm types in relation to protein supplementation strategies is currently under investigation. Other research topics include: receiving programs for newly received cattle, use of byproduct feed in high concentrate diets, use of repartitioning agents and growth-promoting implants on carcass quality, and protein nutrition. Many of the research projects utilize live animals in growth or metabolism studies.
Microorganisms play a key role in the health, well being and productivity of livestock. Most microbes are beneficial to livestock, with only a few involved in diseases and other deleterious effects. The goal of our research program is to better understand the role of microorganisms in complex ecosystems of importance to livestock, including the rumen and gastrointestinal tract, in ensiled feeds, in livestock manure management, and other related microbial environments. Recent research has involved:
- characterizing the microbial population in swine manure slurry for odor producing and degrading bacterial species,
- probiotics and antagonistic bacterial species for controlling food borne pathogens,
- inhibition of ruminal methanogenesis and
- enumerating and characterizing cellulolytic bacteria in the cecum of equine.