The sixth season of the signature seminar series the Sizzling Summer Science Spotlight (S4) webinar, hosted by the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, featured a colorful array of presenters July 15-August 12, 2021. Topics included bacteria-infecting viruses, Chronic Wasting Disease testing in deer, canine genetics, how COVID-19 affects pet cats and dogs, and the impact of humidity levels on black-legged ticks. Presenters include:
Bacteriophages are viruses that specifically infect only bacteria. In this presentation, Dr. Byeonghwa Jeon demonstrated how bacteriophages can be used to control antibiotic-resistant E. coli on retail chicken. Also, he showed that bacteriophages can be utilized to enhance the selective isolation of Campylobacter, the leading foodborne pathogen in the United States.
Dr. Peter Larsen shared his latest One Health research advancements and highlighted key collaborations with faculty in College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and the School of Public Health. In particular, his team is leveraging cutting-edge nanopore sequencing applications for a variety of research projects. Larsen presented the Nanopore Adaptive Sequencing approach which allows for the depletion or enrichment of DNA or RNA molecules as they are being sequenced. His lab is using this particular technique for real-time vector-borne disease surveillance and for complete mitochondrial genome sequencing of vector species and their blood-meal hosts.
Dr. James Mickelson presented a review of the goals, methods, and outcomes of canine genome analysis. Stories of the investigation of the genetic basis of simple Mendelian traits, focussing on neurological and neuromuscular diseases in various breeds, with particular contributions to comparative medicine were presented. The use of genetic tests by the veterinary and dog breeding communities, and their consequences, as well as future applications to understanding complex genetic traits in dogs were also discussed.
In 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic affected human populations worldwide, including here in Minnesota. The aim of Dr. Hinh Ly's preseatnation was to report results of serological (antibody) tests of cats and dogs for evidence of recent infection with the COVID-19 virus. The seminar was based on a paper, entitled "Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) exposure in pet cats and dogs in Minnesota, USA," that was recently published in Virulence. The paper closely examines companion animals for coronavirus exposure because they can serve as sentinels for a wide range of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
Dr. Jonathan Oliver examined the microbiome and pathogen distribution in blacklegged ticks at sites across the Upper Midwest. Major findings include discovering microbiome of the tick is assembled based mainly on the presence of other bacteria genera rather than environmental factors, and the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi was positively associated with sites that had long-term drier air.