U.S – In a groundbreaking development for both the agricultural and public health sectors, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA’s NIFA) has granted the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) a staggering U.S$2.48 million in research funding.

The mission? To spearhead innovative projects that promise to reshape the landscape of swine production while addressing critical concerns related to food safety and animal health.

The first project, undertaken in collaboration with the United States Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) and the USDA Agricultural Research Center (ARS) National Animal Disease Center, delves into a growing global concern: antibiotic resistance.

Researchers will embark on an in-depth exploration of antibiotic resistance gene pools within the swine production system.

By understanding the ecology of these genes and their impact on the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), scientists hope to pave the way for the development of management and nutritional strategies that can dramatically reduce antimicrobial use.

This not only benefits animal welfare but also addresses the pressing issue of AMR, a threat to human health worldwide.

In the second project, the spotlight turns to the intriguing relationship between host genetics, microbial pathogens, and animal health. The ultimate goal? To create genetic tests and management solutions that can predict a pig’s genetic susceptibility to specific microbial diseases.

This innovative approach holds the promise of revolutionizing animal health and welfare by providing tools to prevent and manage diseases more effectively.

Unveiling the secrets of swine diseases

The remaining two projects dive headfirst into the realm of disease prevention for swine. One project is set to reveal the elusive cellular factors required to produce a Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus infection.

Armed with this knowledge, researchers aim to develop targeted strategies to combat this devastating disease.

The fourth project sets its sights on Avian Influenza Virus (AIV) and its potential impact on swine. Scientists will meticulously investigate host genetic variants that promote AIV infection in swine.

The implications extend beyond the farm as increased AIV disease resiliency could safeguard human health.

By reducing the ability of AIV to adapt to mammalian hosts, we can mitigate the emergence of novel, pathogenic strains that threaten human populations.

The grants awarded to UNL promise not only to revolutionize swine production but also to safeguard both animal welfare and human health.

In unraveling the intricate web of antibiotic resistance, genetic predispositions, and disease mechanisms within swine populations, these projects lay the foundation for a more sustainable, secure, and resilient future in agriculture.

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