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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Optimizing the Biology of the Animal-Plant Interface for Improved Sustainability of Forage-Based Animal Enterprises

Location: Forage-Animal Production Research

Project Number: 6440-32630-002-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 15, 2012
End Date: Oct 14, 2017

Objective 1: Determine the disposition of ergot alkaloids in forage-animal tissues/fluids, and implications for human health and food safety and the fundamental biological processes underlying ergot alkaloid-[forage-animal]-plant-environment interactions. Subobjective 1.A: Determine tissue distribution of ergovaline and lysergic acid in cattle consuming diets containing ergot alkaloids. Subobjective 1.B: Determine the metabolites of ergovaline and lysergic acid in urine and bile of exposed steers. Subobjective 1.C: Determine the metabolites formed and disappearance rate of ergovaline and lysergic acid when incubated in mixed rumen microbial cultures. Subobjective 1.D: Identify the transport route, mechanism, and possible metabolism of ergotamine, ergovaline, and lysergic in the bovine small intestine. Subobjective 1.E: Determine the effect of EI TF fescue on gene expression and histology of equine endometrium. Subobjective 1.F: Determine the serotonin and a-adrenergic receptors present in ruminal and mesenteric vasculature. Subobjective 1.G: Determine the effect of dose- and time-defined exposure of EA on physiological, biochemical, and molecular parameters of maturing cattle. Subobjective 1.H: Determine the effect of dose and short term EA exposure on rumen motility. Subobjective 1.I: To determine the effects the EA exposure and body fat store on adipose tissue EA accumulation and the subsequent effects on tissue metabolism, homeostasis and development of necrotic fat in cattle. Subobjective 1.J: Determine the impact of increasing dietary concentrations and “pulse” feeding of EI TF seed (source of EA) on epigenetic modifications (DNA methylation) of promoter elements responsible for pro-inflammatory (IL-1beta, IL-6 IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10 & IL-13) cytokine production in the young adult (5-10 y) and aged (20+ y) horse. Objective 2: Optimize legume/grass mixtures, including nontoxic (novel) and toxic (wild-type) endophyte-infected tall fescue, in integrated forage-animal pasture systems to improve animal performance, health and well-being and forage yield, quality, persistence and resiliency. Subobjective 2.A: Determine the effects of EI TF seed head expression on EA concentrations, animal performance and recovery from FTOX. Subobjective 2.B: Use supplementation to mitigate FTOX by improving our knowledge concerning how supplemental nutrients interact with forage quality and EI TF to affect animal performance. Objective 3: Determine forage nutrient and forage plant secondary metabolite effects on the gut biome to improve the health, well being and forage utilization efficiencies of forage-animals. Subobjective 3.A: Determine the effect of clover phenolic compounds on cellulolytic and amylolytic bacteria. Subobjective 3.B: Determine whether amine production in the equine large intestine during carbohydrate overload is a consequence of carbohydrate availability or of decreased large intestinal pH and the interaction between plant carbohydrate concentrations and plant phenolic concentrations on the activity of gastrointestinal microbes.

Forage systems provide low cost feed while mitigating man’s impact on the environment. Currently, the available fundamental biological information for predicting animal performance in response to plant nutrients under varying environmental, genetic, physiological status, and management conditions is limited. Even more problematic is the poor understanding of the effects of plant nutraceuticals and anti-quality factors on nutrient intake, metabolism and assimilation for product, health maintenance, or work by the animal. To increase the sustainability of forage-based enterprises, it is essential that a better understanding be developed of the fundamental biological processes underlying the interactions between the animal, plant, and environment. This is particularly essential for endophyte-infected forages that produce toxicants. This Project Plan, through the development and utilization of cutting-edge technologies and real world testing, proposes to decipher the complex interactions within the animal-plant interface in order to accomplish the following objectives: improve productivity of forage-based animal systems through optimization of legume/grass mixtures and management of nontoxic (novel) and or control of toxic (wild-type) endophyte-infected tall fescue in pasture systems; determine forage nutrient and forage plant secondary metabolite effects on the gut biome to improve the health, well-being and forage utilization efficiencies of forage-animals; determine the fundamental biological processes underlying the interactions between forage animals, plants, and the environment including the epigenetic effects of forage nutrients and secondary metabolites in the forage-animal; and define the toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of the ergot alkaloids in forage-animals.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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