Johne's disease costs the U.S.
dairy industry about $200 million a year in reduced milk production. It's
caused by infection with Mycobacterium avium subspecies
paratuberculosis . Click the image for more information about
Sequencing Vital in Developing New Tests for
Johne's Disease By Luis Pons September
Genome sequencing by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University of Minnesota (UM) scientists was vital in the development of
new tests that rapidly detect and differentiate bacteria that cause Johne's
Johne's, a chronic wasting affliction of cattle and other ruminant
animals, costs the U.S. dairy industry about $200 million a year in reduced
milk production. It is caused by infection with Mycobacterium avium
subspecies paratuberculosis (M. paratuberculosis).
The new tests directly resulted from the genomic sequencing of M.
paratuberculosis by researchers at the ARS National Animal Disease Center
and UM two years ago. The tests enable detection within 72 hours of the microbe
in animals' fecal matter or milk. Previous tests often took between six and 18
weeks to process because of the bacterium's slow growth in the laboratory.
The novel tests were developed independently by NADC microbiologist
Stabel; Vivek Kapur, director of UM's Advanced Genetics Analysis Center; and
The genome research at NADC was a key to the achievement. There,
Bannantine led the ARS team on work to identify at least 39 novel coding
sequences unique to the M. paratuberculosis microbe.
The identification of these coding sequences, which made the new tests
possible, was made through the use of data garnered when Bannantine and Kapur
spearheaded the sequencing of the M. paratuberculosis genome.
By helping detect and isolate infected animals more quickly, the new
tests will help curb animal-to-animal transmission of Johne's and lessen the
economic impact of the disease.
Bannantine was assisted by Stabel and NADC microbiologists
L. Paustian. According to Bannantine, the research shows how genome studies
can lead to highly effective tests for detecting infectious diseases in
The scientists see this research, published recently in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, as a portal to a better understanding of the Johne's disease
process and the design of vaccines against it.
ARS is U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.