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Animals, Volume 11, Issue 2 (February 2021) – 343 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Dogs are trained to detect a wide range of odors, but there is little attention on the concentration of the odor used for training or the range of concentrations dogs may or may not need to detect in the field. A pilot group of dogs were trained to respond to a target odor with an air-dilution olfactometer, and spontaneous responses to a range of concentrations were assessed in non-reinforced probe trials. Results indicated dogs responded to probes within a 10-fold range of the target odor. Further, dogs could be trained to discriminate the target odor from a 25% dilution of that odor. Discrimination training, however, had little effect on generalization unless probe trials were included during discrimination training. Together, these results suggest dogs are highly sensitive to concentration changes and can be explicitly trained to alert to a specific range of odor concentration. View [...] Read more.
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Open AccessCommunication
Distress Regulates Different Pathways in the Brain of Common Carp: A Preliminary Study
Animals 2021, 11(2), 585; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020585 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 167
Abstract
In this study, a stress trial was conducted with common carp, one of the most important species in aquaculture worldwide, to identify relevant gene regulation pathways in different areas of the brain. Acute distress due to exposure to air significantly activated the expression [...] Read more.
In this study, a stress trial was conducted with common carp, one of the most important species in aquaculture worldwide, to identify relevant gene regulation pathways in different areas of the brain. Acute distress due to exposure to air significantly activated the expression of the immediate early gene c-fos in the telencephalon. In addition, evidence for regulation of the two corticotropin-releasing factor (crf) genes in relation to their binding protein (corticotropin-releasing hormone-binding protein, crh-bp) is presented in this preliminary study. Inferences on the effects of due to exposure to air were obtained by using point estimation, which allows the prediction of a single value. This constitutes the best description to date of the previously generally unknown effects of stress in different brain regions in carp. Furthermore, principal component analyses were performed to reveal possible regulation patterns in the different regions of the fish brain. In conclusion, these preliminary studies on gene regulation in the carp brain that has been influenced by exposure to a stressor reveal that a number of genes may be successfully used as markers for exposure to unfavourable conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Welfare in Research and Fish Farming)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Adaptations in Mudskipper and Tetrapod Give Insights into Their Convergent Water-to-Land Transition
Animals 2021, 11(2), 584; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020584 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 206
Abstract
Water-to-land transition has been independently evolved in multiple vertebrate lineages including the most recent common ancestor of tetrapod and multiple fish clades, and among them, mudskippers uniquely adapted to the mudflat. Even though physiological and morphological adaptation of mudskippers is thought to resemble [...] Read more.
Water-to-land transition has been independently evolved in multiple vertebrate lineages including the most recent common ancestor of tetrapod and multiple fish clades, and among them, mudskippers uniquely adapted to the mudflat. Even though physiological and morphological adaptation of mudskippers is thought to resemble that of the ancestral tetrapod, it is unclear if they share genome-wide evolutionary signatures. To detect potential signatures of positive selection in mudskipper and tetrapods, we analyzed 4118 singleton orthologues of terrestrial tetrapods, coelacanth, mudskipper, and fully aquatic fishes. Among positively selected genes identified in mudskipper and tetrapod lineages, genes involved in immune responses, mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, and kidney development were detected. On the other hand, tetrapod-specific and mudskipper-specific positively selected genes were functionally enriched for DNA repair processes, which could be associated with higher exposure to UV light. We also performed gene family analysis and discovered convergent contraction of eight gene families, including βγ-crystallin coding genes in both tetrapod and mudskipper lineages. Findings of this study suggest the similar genetic adaptation against environmental constraints between the ancient tetrapod and mudskippers for their land adaptation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Aquatic Animals)
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Open AccessArticle
Detection of Polymorphisms in the MTNR1A Gene and Their Association with Reproductive Performance in Awassi Ewes
Animals 2021, 11(2), 583; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020583 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 195
Abstract
The economy in Mediterranean areas is tightly linked to the evolution of the sheep-farming system; therefore, improvement in ewe’s reproductive performance is essential in the developing countries of this area. MTNR1A is the gene coding for Melatonin receptor 1 (MT1), and it is [...] Read more.
The economy in Mediterranean areas is tightly linked to the evolution of the sheep-farming system; therefore, improvement in ewe’s reproductive performance is essential in the developing countries of this area. MTNR1A is the gene coding for Melatonin receptor 1 (MT1), and it is considered to be involved in the reproductive activity in sheep. The aims of this study were: (1) identifying the polymorphisms from the entire MTNR1A coding region and promoter in Lebanese Awassi sheep flocks, and (2) investigating the association between the found polymorphisms and the reproductive performance, assessed as lambing rate, litter size, and days to lambing (DTL). The study was conducted in two districts of Lebanon, where 165 lactating ewes, aged 5.2 ± 1.5 years, with body condition score (BCS) 3.3 ± 0.4, were chosen and exposed to adult and fertile rams. From 150 to 220 days after ram introduction, lambing dates and litter sizes were registered. This study provided the entire coding region of the MTNR1A receptor gene in the Awassi sheep breed. Thirty-one single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were detected, five of which were missense mutations. The H2, H3, and H4 haplotypes were associated with lower DTL (p < 0.05), as well as the SNPs rs430181568 and rs40738822721, named from now on SNP20 and SNP21, respectively. These SNPs were totally linked and can be considered as a single marker. The ewes carrying the C allele at both these polymorphic sites advanced their reproductive recovery (p < 0.05). These results are essential for improving reproductive management and obtaining advanced lambing in Awassi ewes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Reproduction)
Open AccessReview
The Sustainability of Keeping Birds as Pets: Should Any Be Kept?
Animals 2021, 11(2), 582; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020582 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 219
Abstract
We describe a wide range of unethical and unsustainable practices inherent to the trading and keeping of pet birds. At present, biodiversity and wild bird populations are being greatly harmed and many individual birds have poor welfare. Wild-caught birds should not be sold [...] Read more.
We describe a wide range of unethical and unsustainable practices inherent to the trading and keeping of pet birds. At present, biodiversity and wild bird populations are being greatly harmed and many individual birds have poor welfare. Wild-caught birds should not be sold to the public as pets, or to breeding establishments for several reasons, including because 75–90% of wild-caught birds die before the point of sale and taking birds from the wild has negative effects on biodiversity. The housing provided for pet birds should meet the needs of birds of that species and allow good welfare, for example there should be no small cages but aviaries with space for each bird to exercise adequately, and social birds should be kept in social groups. At present, inadequate housing of many pet birds results in stereotypies and other indicators of poor welfare in birds. Owners should have knowledge of how to provide good nutrition and minimize the risk of disease. Unless these changes are made, keeping birds as pets should not be permitted. New laws are needed to prohibit taking birds from the wild and ensure captive pet birds in conditions that do meet their needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Ethics)
Open AccessArticle
Beneficial Effects of L-Carnitine Supplementation during IVM of Canine Oocytes on Their Nuclear Maturation and Development In Vitro
Animals 2021, 11(2), 581; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020581 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 208
Abstract
This study aimed to investigate the effect of L-Carnitine (LC) supplementation during in vitro maturation (IVM) of canine oocytes on nuclear maturation, fertilization status, and preimplantation development. Cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) collected from the ovaries of ovariohysterectomized female dogs were matured in vitro for [...] Read more.
This study aimed to investigate the effect of L-Carnitine (LC) supplementation during in vitro maturation (IVM) of canine oocytes on nuclear maturation, fertilization status, and preimplantation development. Cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) collected from the ovaries of ovariohysterectomized female dogs were matured in vitro for 72 h in a TCM-199 medium supplemented with (0.1, 0.3, 0.6, 1.0, or 2.0 mg/mL) or without (0.0 mg/mL) LC. Matured oocytes were fertilized in vitro with frozen–thawed spermatozoa, and zygotes were cultured in a SOF medium for 7 days. IVM rates were higher (p ≤ 0.05) in 0.3 and 0.6 mg/mL LC supplemented groups than in the control (0.0 mg/mL LC) and other LC groups. Fertilization (18 h postinsemination (pi)) and cleavage (2–16-cell stage at day 3 pi) rates were higher (p ≤ 0.05) in the 0.6 mg/mL LC group than in the control and 0.1, 1.0, and 2 mg/mL LC supplemented groups. Interestingly, 4.5% of fertilized oocytes developed to morula (day 5 pi) in the 0.6 mg/mL LC group, which was higher (p ≤ 0.05) than those developed in the 0.3 mg/mL group (1.0%). No cleaved embryos developed to morula in other groups. In conclusion, LC supplementation at 0.6 mg/mL during IVM of canine oocytes improved their maturation, fertilization, and preimplantation embryo development rates following IVF and in vitro culture (IVC). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Insights in Canine Reproduction)
Open AccessCommentary
Equine Discomfort Ethogram
Animals 2021, 11(2), 580; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020580 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 2180
Abstract
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in and need for a comprehensive ethogram of discomfort behavior of horses, particularly for use in recognizing physical discomfort in domestically managed horses. A clear understanding of the physical discomfort behavior of horses among [...] Read more.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in and need for a comprehensive ethogram of discomfort behavior of horses, particularly for use in recognizing physical discomfort in domestically managed horses. A clear understanding of the physical discomfort behavior of horses among caretakers, trainers, and professional health care personnel is important to animal welfare and caretaker safety. This is particularly relevant to pain management for hospitalized equine patients. Various pain scale rubrics have been published, typically incorporating only a few classically cited pain behaviors that, in many cases, are specific to a particular body system, anatomic location, or disease condition. A consistent challenge in using these rubrics in practice, and especially in research, is difficulty interpreting behaviors listed in various rubrics. The objective of this equine discomfort ethogram is to describe a relatively comprehensive catalog of behaviors associated with discomfort of various degrees and sources, with the goal of improving understanding and clarity of communication regarding equine discomfort and pain. An inventory of discomfort-related behaviors observed in horses has been compiled over 35 years of equine behavior research and clinical consulting to medical and surgical services at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s equine hospital. This research and clinical work included systematic evaluation of thousands of hours of video-recordings, including many hundreds of normal, healthy horses, as well as hospitalized patients with various complaints and/or known medical, neurologic, or orthopedic conditions. Each of 73 ethogram entries is named, defined, and accompanied by a line drawing illustration. Links to online video recorded examples are provided, illustrating each behavior in one or more hospitalized equine patients. This ethogram, unambiguously describing equine discomfort behaviors, should advance welfare of horses by improving recognition of physical discomfort, whether for pain management of hospitalized horses or in routine husbandry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards a better assessment of acute pain in equines)
Open AccessArticle
Effects of Corn Silage Inclusion Level and Type of Anabolic Implant on Animal Growth Performance, Apparent Total Tract Digestibility, Beef Production per Hectare, and Carcass Characteristics of Finishing Steers
Animals 2021, 11(2), 579; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020579 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 149
Abstract
Maine-Anjou × Angus cross-bred steers (n = 156 steers; initial body weight (BW) 366 ± 37.2 kg) were used in a 132 d finishing study conducted at the Ruminant Nutrition Center (RNC) in Brookings, SD. Steers were blocked by weight (n [...] Read more.
Maine-Anjou × Angus cross-bred steers (n = 156 steers; initial body weight (BW) 366 ± 37.2 kg) were used in a 132 d finishing study conducted at the Ruminant Nutrition Center (RNC) in Brookings, SD. Steers were blocked by weight (n = 5 BW blocks) and randomly assigned to an implant and dietary treatment of a randomized complete block design with each pen containing seven to eight steers (n = 20 pens). Dietary treatments consisted of (1) 15% (CS15) or (2) 30% corn silage (CS30) where corn silage displaced corn grain in the diet. Steers received one of two implants (both from Zoetis, Parsippany, NJ) containing equal doses of trenbolone acetate (TBA) and estradiol benzoate (EB): (1) Synovex PLUS (non-coated implant; 200 mg TBA and 28 mg EB; PLUS) or (2) Synovex ONE Feedlot (coated implant; 200 mg TBA and 28 mg EB; ONE-F). Bunks were managed using a slick bunk approach, and all diets contained dry matter (DM) basis 33 mg/kg monensin sodium. All steers were offered ad libitum access to feed, and feeding occurred twice daily in equal portions. There was no interaction between the implant and dietary treatment for any variables measured (p ≥ 0.08). Carcass-adjusted basis final BW, average daily gain (ADG), and grain to feed (G:F) were increased (p ≤ 0.02) by 2.2%, 6.5%, and 7.2%, respectively, for CS15. Observed net energy (NE) and the ratio of observed-to-expected NE for maintenance and gain was not influenced (p ≥ 0.15) by silage inclusion treatment. Beef production per hectare was not impacted (p ≥ 0.13) by corn silage inclusion level. Fecal output was increased, and digestibility coefficients for dry matter, organic matter, and crude protein were decreased in CS30 (p ≤ 0.03). Dressing percent and hot carcass weight (HCW) were greater (p ≤ 0.02) in CS15. Implant type did not influence any traits measured (p ≥ 0.14) except for marbling. Marbling was decreased for PLUS (433 vs. 466 ± 17.5; p = 0.02) compared to ONE-F steers. Similar beef produced per hectare of crop land-based upon silage feeding level means producers can feed greater inclusions of corn silage to finishing cattle without impacting carcass quality or beef production; implanting with a coated implant had no detrimental effects to growth performance but increases marbling scores. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle)
Open AccessArticle
Lipofection-Mediated Introduction of CRISPR/Cas9 System into Porcine Oocytes and Embryos
Animals 2021, 11(2), 578; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020578 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 148
Abstract
Liposome-mediated gene transfer has become an alternative method for establishing a gene targeting framework, and the production of mutant animals may be feasible even in laboratories without specialized equipment. However, how this system functions in mammalian oocytes and embryos remains unclear. The present [...] Read more.
Liposome-mediated gene transfer has become an alternative method for establishing a gene targeting framework, and the production of mutant animals may be feasible even in laboratories without specialized equipment. However, how this system functions in mammalian oocytes and embryos remains unclear. The present study was conducted to clarify whether blastocyst genome editing can be performed by treatment with lipofection reagent, guide RNA, and Cas9 for 5 h without using electroporation or microinjection. A mosaic mutation was observed in blastocysts derived from zona pellucida (ZP)-free oocytes following lipofection treatment, regardless of the target genes. When lipofection treatment was performed after in vitro fertilization (IVF), no significant differences in the mutation rates or mutation efficiency were found between blastocysts derived from embryos treated at 24 and 29 h from the start of IVF. Only blastocysts from embryos exposed to lipofection treatment at 29 h after IVF contained biallelic mutant. Furthermore, there were no significant differences in the mutation rates or mutation efficiency between blastocysts derived from embryos at the 2- and 4-cell stages. This suggests that lipofection-mediated gene editing can be performed in ZP-free oocytes and ZP-free embryos; however, other factors affecting the system efficiency should be further investigated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Pigs)
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Open AccessArticle
Expeller-Pressed Canola (Brassica napus) Meal Modulates the Structure and Function of the Cecal Microbiota, and Alters the Metabolome of the Pancreas, Liver, and Breast Muscle of Broiler Chickens
Animals 2021, 11(2), 577; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020577 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 141
Abstract
The inoculation of one-day-old broiler chicks with the cecal contents from a mature broiler breeder resulted in a highly diverse and uniform cecal bacterial community. CM did not affect feed consumption, weight gain, nor the richness, evenness, or diversity of the cecal bacterial [...] Read more.
The inoculation of one-day-old broiler chicks with the cecal contents from a mature broiler breeder resulted in a highly diverse and uniform cecal bacterial community. CM did not affect feed consumption, weight gain, nor the richness, evenness, or diversity of the cecal bacterial community. However, the structure of the bacterial community was altered in birds fed the CM diet. Although the CM diet was formulated to contain equivalent metabolizable energy to the control diet, it contained more dietary fiber. The abundance of bacterial families, including those that are known to contain species able to metabolize fiber was altered (e.g., bacteria within the families, Methanobacteriaceae, Atopobiaceae, Prevotellaceae, Clostridiales Family XIII, Peptostreptococcaceae, and Succinivibrionaceae), and concentrations of SCFAs were higher in the ceca of birds fed the CM diet. Moreover, concentrations of isoleucine, isobutyrate, glutamate, and 2-oxoglutarate were higher, whereas concentrations of phenyllactic acid, indole, glucose, 3-phenylpropionate, and 2-oxobutyrate were lower in the digesta of chickens that were fed CM. The metabolic profiles of pancreas, liver, and breast muscle tissues of birds fed the CM diet differed from control birds. Metabolites that were associated with energy production, protection against oxidative stress, and pathways of amino acid and glycerophospholipid metabolism had altered concentrations in these tissues. Some of the observed changes in metabolite levels may indicate an increased disease risk in birds fed the CM diet (e.g., pancreatitis), and others suggested that birds mounted metabolic response to offset the adverse impacts of CM (e.g., oxidative stress in the liver). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Advances in Poultry Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Biometric Analysis of Cranial and Somatic Features in the Pannonian Root Vole
Animals 2021, 11(2), 576; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020576 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 132
Abstract
The Pannonian root vole Alexandromys oeconomus ssp. mehelyi represents a rare glacial relict, whose occurrence is nowadays bound to several areas in Europe. Four somatic and 25 craniological features were analysed, based on 355 measured specimens. Sex is a significant factor affecting the [...] Read more.
The Pannonian root vole Alexandromys oeconomus ssp. mehelyi represents a rare glacial relict, whose occurrence is nowadays bound to several areas in Europe. Four somatic and 25 craniological features were analysed, based on 355 measured specimens. Sex is a significant factor affecting the average value of all four somatic features, where all of them achieve higher values in males than in females. While body length and tail length were also affected by seasons, body weight and the length of the hind foot were stable features present across the seasons. In cranial features, the largest variability in the adult population is characterised by neurocranium breadth (LaN), total length of the cranial base (LB), and skull (LCr); whereas the smallest variability of the cranial dimensions is reflected in the values of the greatest palatal breadth (PS) and postorbital breadth (Io). Calculating the weight from cranial remains may be used to estimate the size of the prey and to determine vole biomass consumed by predators, such as raptors, highlighting the utility of studying feeding ecology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Mother Goat Presence during Rearing on Kids’ Response to Isolation and to an Arena Test
Animals 2021, 11(2), 575; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020575 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 174
Abstract
The aim of the study was to examine how early permanent separation, separation during the day only, or full-time access to the mother goat affected goat kids during social isolation with a sudden sound of a dog bark at two weeks and two [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to examine how early permanent separation, separation during the day only, or full-time access to the mother goat affected goat kids during social isolation with a sudden sound of a dog bark at two weeks and two months, and a novel arena test with a novel object at two months. Kids permanently separated reduced their vocalization earlier and had a higher heart rate before and after dog bark during isolation at two weeks, no effect was found on the daytime separated kids. Daytime separated kids bleated more at two weeks and decreased heart rate after dog barking at two months. Daytime separated kids showed the strongest fear reaction in the arena test, no effect was found on the permanently separated kids. Kids separated early vocalized more before novel object and showed more explorative behavior afterwards. Our study shows different responses in goat kids separated early permanent, daytime separated, or kept full-time with mother, which demonstrates the importance of if and how the mother is present, and the impact of using a wide variety of physiological and behavioral measures when evaluating stress in animal welfare research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Small Ruminants)
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Open AccessArticle
Alternative Management Systems of Beef Cattle Manure for Reducing Nitrogen Loadings: A Case-Study Approach
Animals 2021, 11(2), 574; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020574 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 145
Abstract
Livestock manure is one of the main sources of agricultural nonpoint source pollution and poses a great threat to the environment and human health. Sustainable management of manure via recycling is an effective means to tackle the problem. Based on field interviews in [...] Read more.
Livestock manure is one of the main sources of agricultural nonpoint source pollution and poses a great threat to the environment and human health. Sustainable management of manure via recycling is an effective means to tackle the problem. Based on field interviews in China, multiple case studies were employed to investigate alternative manure management systems. Four conclusions arose. First, compost-based systems, product-based systems, substrate-based systems, and biogas-based systems were identified as four main types of manure management systems, with each possessing its success factors and risk factors. The adoption of a system was driven by various factors. Second, market-oriented operation was the dominant operation mechanism of all the manure management systems. Third, compared to direct application of manure to croplands, all the four manure management systems could reduce nitrogen loadings from livestock farms and lower their environmental effects. Among the systems, biogas-based systems could reduce nitrogen loadings to the greatest extent, followed by product-based systems and substrate-based systems, and then by compost-based systems. Lastly, integrated management of manure with mixed recycling systems is imperative for reducing its environmental effects, which can benefit from the increasing role of third-party entities in manure recycling. Policy implications were also discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Comprehensive Proteomics Analysis of In Vitro Canine Oviductal Cell-Derived Extracellular Vesicles
Animals 2021, 11(2), 573; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020573 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 211
Abstract
Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) have unique and peculiar reproductive characteristics. While the interplay between in vitro oviductal cell-derived extracellular vesicles (OC-EVs) and cumulus-oocyte complexes in dogs has begun to be elucidated, no study has yet provided extensive information on the biological content and [...] Read more.
Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) have unique and peculiar reproductive characteristics. While the interplay between in vitro oviductal cell-derived extracellular vesicles (OC-EVs) and cumulus-oocyte complexes in dogs has begun to be elucidated, no study has yet provided extensive information on the biological content and physiological function of OC-EVs and their role in canine oocyte development. Here, we aimed to provide the first comprehensive proteomic analysis of OC-EVs. We identified 398 proteins as present in all OC-EVs samples. The functional enrichment analysis using Gene Ontology terms and an Ingenuity Pathway Analysis revealed that the identified proteins were involved in several cellular metabolic processes, including translation, synthesis, expression, and protein metabolism. Notably, the proteins were also involved in critical canonical pathways with essential functions in oocyte and embryo development, such as ERK/MAPK, EIF2, PI3K/AKT, and mTOR signaling. These data would be an important resource for studying canine reproductive physiology and establishing a successful in vitro embryo production system in dogs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Insights in Canine Reproduction)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Replacing Ensiled-Alfalfa with Fresh-Alfalfa on Dynamic Fermentation Characteristics, Chemical Compositions, and Protein Fractions in Fermented Total Mixed Ration with Different Additives
Animals 2021, 11(2), 572; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020572 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 223
Abstract
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is one of the high protein ingredients of fermented total mixed ration (FTMR). Additionally, FTMR is widely used to satisfy the nutrition requirements of animals. This study was conducted to confirm the fermentation characteristics, chemical compositions and protein [...] Read more.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is one of the high protein ingredients of fermented total mixed ration (FTMR). Additionally, FTMR is widely used to satisfy the nutrition requirements of animals. This study was conducted to confirm the fermentation characteristics, chemical compositions and protein fractions changes when replacing ensiled-alfalfa with fresh-alfalfa in FTMR with additives. Three additives were separately applied to fresh-alfalfa total mixed ration (TMR) and ensiled-alfalfa TMR, including molasses (MOL), Lactobacillus plantarum (LP) and MOL plus LP (MOL+LP). The same volume of distilled water was sprayed onto the prepared TMR as performed for the control (CK). Each treatment included 18 repetitions and opened 3 repetitions at each fermenting day (1, 3, 7, 15, 30 and 60 d). The results showed that fresh-alfalfa FTMR (F-FTMR) exhibited slight changes in the fermentation characteristics during the first 7 d and showed similar trends in terms of the pH and organic acids content to ensiled-alfalfa FTMR (E-FTMR). The lactic acid contents of F-FTMR were significantly lower than those of E-FTMR at 60 d fermentation and the ammonia nitrogen contents were lower than E-FTMR during the entire fermenting period. The crude protein of the F-FTMR was enhanced after 60 d of fermenting. F-FTMR supplemented with MOL+LP exhibited a lower nonprotein nitrogen content, variable to slow protein and indigestible protein contents, and higher fast degradable protein and true protein degraded intermediately contents at 60 d fermenting, indicating that it effectively inhibited protein degradation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Animal Nutrition and Feeding)
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Open AccessArticle
Polymorphism Detection of GDF9 Gene and Its Association with Litter Size in Luzhong Mutton Sheep (Ovis aries)
Animals 2021, 11(2), 571; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020571 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 166
Abstract
Litter size is one of the most important economic traits in sheep. GDF9 and BMPR1B are major genes affecting the litter size of sheep. In this study, the whole coding region of GDF9 was sequenced and all the SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) were [...] Read more.
Litter size is one of the most important economic traits in sheep. GDF9 and BMPR1B are major genes affecting the litter size of sheep. In this study, the whole coding region of GDF9 was sequenced and all the SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) were determined in Luzhong mutton ewes. The FecB mutation was genotyped using the Sequenom MassARRAY®SNP assay technology. Then, the association analyses between polymorphic loci of GDF9 gene, FecB, and litter size were performed using a general linear model procedure. The results showed that eight SNPs were detected in GDF9 of Luzhong mutton sheep, including one novel mutation (g.41769606 T > G). The g.41768501A > G, g.41768485 G > A in GDF9 and FecB were significantly associated with litter size in Luzhong mutton ewes. The g.41768485 G > A is a missense mutation in the mature GDF9 protein region and is predicted to affect the tertiary structure of the protein. The results preliminarily demonstrated that GDF9 was a major gene affecting the fecundity of Luzhong mutton sheep and the two loci g.41768501A > G and g.41768485 G > A may be potential genetic markers for improving litter size. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Age on Bone Structure Parameters in Laying Hens
Animals 2021, 11(2), 570; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020570 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 262
Abstract
Changes in medullary and cortical bone structure with age remain unclear. Twenty Hy-Line W36 hens, 25 or 52 weeks of age, were euthanized, and both tibiae were collected when an egg was present in the magnum. Serial cross sections of the tibiae were [...] Read more.
Changes in medullary and cortical bone structure with age remain unclear. Twenty Hy-Line W36 hens, 25 or 52 weeks of age, were euthanized, and both tibiae were collected when an egg was present in the magnum. Serial cross sections of the tibiae were stained with Alcian blue. The bones were scanned using micro-computed tomography. Trabecular width (Tb.Wi) was significantly higher (p < 0.05) in 25-week-old hens, whereas medullary bone tissue volume (TV) was significantly higher (p < 0.01) in 52-week-old hens. 25-week-old hens had significantly higher (p < 0.01) bone volume fraction (BVF = calcified tissue / TV). Moreover, the cortical bone parameters were significantly higher (TV and bone mineral content (BMC) at p < 0.05, and bone volume (BV) and BVF at p < 0.01) in younger hens. Open porosity and total porosity, which indicate less density, were significantly higher (p < 0.01) in older hens. Older hens showed significantly higher (p < 0.01) tibial diaphysis TV than younger hens. Younger hens had significantly higher (p < 0.01) BV, BVF and bone mineral density (BMD) of the tibial diaphysis. These findings reveal that reductions in medullary bone quality might be associated with age-related low estrogen levels and stimulation of osteoclastic bone resorption by parathyroid hormone. Cortical bone quality decreased with enlargement of the Haversian canals and loss of volume, with a longer egg-laying period leading to osteoporosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Advances in Poultry Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Using Decision Science for Monitoring Threatened Western Snowy Plovers to Inform Recovery
Animals 2021, 11(2), 569; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020569 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 254
Abstract
Western Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) are federally listed under the US Endangered Species Act as Threatened. They occur along the US Pacific coastline and are threatened by habitat loss and destruction and excessive levels of predation and human disturbance. Populations [...] Read more.
Western Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) are federally listed under the US Endangered Species Act as Threatened. They occur along the US Pacific coastline and are threatened by habitat loss and destruction and excessive levels of predation and human disturbance. Populations have been monitored since the 1970s for distribution, reproduction, and survival. Since the species was federally listed in 1993 and a recovery plan was approved under the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2007, recovery actions have resulted in growing populations with increased presence at breeding and wintering sites throughout their Pacific Coast range. This success has created logistical challenges related to monitoring a recovering species and a need for identifying and instituting the best monitoring approach given recovery goals, budgets, and the likelihood of monitoring success. We devised and implemented a structured decision analysis to evaluate nine alternative monitoring strategies. The analysis included inviting plover biologists involved in monitoring to score each strategy according to a suite of performance measures. Using multi-attribute utility theory, we combined scores across the performance measures for each monitoring strategy, and applied weighted utility values to show the implications of tradeoffs and find optimal decisions. We evaluated four scenarios for weighting the monitoring objectives and how risk attitude affects optimal decisions. This resulted in identifying six strategies that best meet recovery needs and were Pareto optimal for cost-effective monitoring. Results were presented to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, responsible for monitoring as well as for consideration to ensure consistent monitoring methods across the species’ range. Our use of structured decision-making can be applied to cases of other species once imperiled but now on the road to recovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent advance in Wildlife Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
Groups and Individuals: Optical Flow Patterns of Broiler Chicken Flocks Are Correlated with the Behavior of Individual Birds
Animals 2021, 11(2), 568; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020568 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 257
Abstract
Group level measures of welfare flocks have been criticized on the grounds that they give only average measures and overlook the welfare of individual animals. However, we here show that the group-level optical flow patterns made by broiler flocks can be used to [...] Read more.
Group level measures of welfare flocks have been criticized on the grounds that they give only average measures and overlook the welfare of individual animals. However, we here show that the group-level optical flow patterns made by broiler flocks can be used to deliver information not just about the flock averages but also about the proportion of individuals in different movement categories. Mean optical flow provides information about the average movement of the whole flock while the variance, skew and kurtosis quantify the variation between individuals. We correlated flock optical flow patterns with the behavior and welfare of a sample of 16 birds per flock in two runway tests and a water (latency-to-lie) test. In the runway tests, there was a positive correlation between the average time taken to complete the runway and the skew and kurtosis of optical flow on day 28 of flock life (on average slow individuals came from flocks with a high skew and kurtosis). In the water test, there was a positive correlation between the average length of time the birds remained standing and the mean and variance of flock optical flow (on average, the most mobile individuals came from flocks with the highest mean). Patterns at the flock level thus contain valuable information about the activity of different proportions of the individuals within a flock. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of the Monomeric Components of Poly-hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyhexanoate on the Growth of Vibrio penaeicida In Vitro and on the Survival of Infected Kuruma Shrimp (Marsupenaeus japonicus)
Animals 2021, 11(2), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020567 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 205
Abstract
Here, we investigated the inhibitory effects of the biodegradable, water-insoluble polymer poly-hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyhexanoate (PHBH) and its two constituent monomers, the hydroxyalkanoic acids 3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB) and 3-hydroxyhexanoate (3HH), on the growth of the shrimp-pathogenic bacterium Vibrio penaeicida. In vitro experiments revealed that 3HH showed [...] Read more.
Here, we investigated the inhibitory effects of the biodegradable, water-insoluble polymer poly-hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyhexanoate (PHBH) and its two constituent monomers, the hydroxyalkanoic acids 3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB) and 3-hydroxyhexanoate (3HH), on the growth of the shrimp-pathogenic bacterium Vibrio penaeicida. In vitro experiments revealed that 3HH showed greater growth inhibitory activity than 3HB against V. penaeicida. In addition, the activities of hydroxyalkanoic acids were pH dependent, being greater at pH 6.0 than at pH 7.0. Investigation of the pH of the shrimp gut revealed a pH range of 5.9–6.7 (mean 6.29 ± SD 0.20), indicating that the physiological environment was suitable for 3HB and 3HH to exert their inhibitory activities against V. penaeicida. In vivo bacterial challenge experiments revealed that survival rates in kuruma shrimp (Marsupenaeus japonicus) infected by V. penaeicida were significantly increased in shrimp reared on feed containing PHBH (0.1%–5% w/w PHBH) compared with that in shrimp reared on standard diet alone. Supplementation with PHBH had no significant effects on three shrimp growth parameters: increase in body weight, daily feeding rate, and feed conversion ratio. These results suggest that supplementation of standard diet with PHBH will increase shrimp resistance to infection by V. penaeicida, thereby increasing shrimp aquaculture productivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Aquatic Animals)
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Open AccessArticle
A New Limnonectes (Anura: Dicroglossidae) from Southern Thailand
Animals 2021, 11(2), 566; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020566 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 281
Abstract
A new species in the dicroglossid frog genus Limnonectes is described from Ko Pha-ngan, Ko Samui, and Ko Lanta Yai Islands in southern Thailand. Males of Limnonectes pseudodoriae sp. nov. lack a caruncle on top of the head and very closely [...] Read more.
A new species in the dicroglossid frog genus Limnonectes is described from Ko Pha-ngan, Ko Samui, and Ko Lanta Yai Islands in southern Thailand. Males of Limnonectes pseudodoriae sp. nov. lack a caruncle on top of the head and very closely resemble L. doriae (Boulenger, 1887) from Myanmar and western and southern Thailand. However, the new species is distinguished from L. doriae and its congeners using an integrative taxonomic approach of morphology, mitochondrial DNA, and bioacoustics. Limnonectes pseudodoriae sp. nov. differs from L. doriae and its congeners by having a unique combination of morphological characters, including body size; skin texture of the interorbital region, dorsum, and shank; toe webbing; relative size of the inner metatarsal tubercle; and coloration of the tympanum, venter, and ova. The advertisement call of the new species is also readily differentiated from that of L. doriae in temporal parameters. Limnonectes pseudodoriae sp. nov. is highly divergent in mitochondrial DNA from L. doriae and its congeners, but its phylogenetic position within the genus is not resolved. The natural history of the new species is presented, and the geographic range of L. doriae in Thailand is clarified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Decabrominated Diphenyl Ether Exposure on Growth, Meat Characteristics and Blood Profiles in Broilers
Animals 2021, 11(2), 565; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020565 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 180
Abstract
Decabrominated diphenyl ether (BDE-209) is widely used as a flame retardant and is detected at high levels in the environment. Its toxicities have been reported and have attracted attention. In the present study, broilers were used to determine the response in growth performance, [...] Read more.
Decabrominated diphenyl ether (BDE-209) is widely used as a flame retardant and is detected at high levels in the environment. Its toxicities have been reported and have attracted attention. In the present study, broilers were used to determine the response in growth performance, carcass traits, meat quality, blood profiles and antioxidant system to BDE-209 exposure at doses of 0, 0.02, 0.4 and 4 mg/kg. The results showed that BDE-209 exposure at levels of 0.02 or 0.4 mg/kg increased feed intake and decreased feed efficiency. BDE-209 altered the blood profiles, such as reducing the numbers of white blood cells, lymphocytes and neutrophilic granulocytes. As compared with the control, BDE-209 exposure significantly increased abdominal fat percentages of broilers at 64.9–159.5% and adversely affected the selected biochemical indicators, including alkaline phosphatase (ALP), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), creatine (CRE), which indicated its toxicity to liver and kidney functions. Moreover, BDE-209 exposure significantly increased plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) concentrations and decreased the activities of glutathione peroxidase (GSH-px) and superoxide dismutase (SOD), which implied aggravating oxidant stress and decline of antioxidant capacity in broilers. In conclusion, our data demonstrated that the environmental pollutant BDE-209 adversely influenced growth performance, increased the deposition of abdominal fat, impaired antioxidant capacity and the immune system and had potential toxicity to the liver and kidney of broilers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Emerging Hazards in Animal Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Feed Quality and Feeding Level Effects on Faecal Composition in East African Cattle Farming Systems
Animals 2021, 11(2), 564; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020564 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 235
Abstract
Effects of feeding levels below maintenance requirements of metabolizable energy (MER) and of feed supplementation on fecal nutrient and microbial C concentrations were evaluated. In experiment 1, Rhodes grass hay only was offered to Boran steers at 80%, 60%, and 40% of individual [...] Read more.
Effects of feeding levels below maintenance requirements of metabolizable energy (MER) and of feed supplementation on fecal nutrient and microbial C concentrations were evaluated. In experiment 1, Rhodes grass hay only was offered to Boran steers at 80%, 60%, and 40% of individual MER, while steers at 100% MER additionally received a concentrated mixture. This reduction in MER decreased N, increased fungal C but did not affect bacterial C concentrations in feces. In experiment 2, Holstein × Boran heifers were offered a poor-quality roughage diet without supplement, with sweet potato vine silage or with a urea-molasses block. These two supplements did not affect the fecal chemical composition or fungal C but increased bacterial C concentrations in feces. Across all data, the fungal C/bacterial C ratio was positively related to N and negatively to neutral detergent fiber concentrations in feces, indicating diet-induced shifts in the fecal microbial community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle)
Open AccessArticle
Endocrine Signals Altered by Heat Stress Impact Dairy Cow Mammary Cellular Processes at Different Stages of the Dry Period
Animals 2021, 11(2), 563; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020563 - 21 Feb 2021
Viewed by 225
Abstract
Hormonal alterations occurring under late gestation heat stress may disturb mammary gland remodelling, resulting in a reduced milk yield during the subsequent lactation. We investigated the effects of an altered endocrine environment on mammary gene expression at different stages of the dry period. [...] Read more.
Hormonal alterations occurring under late gestation heat stress may disturb mammary gland remodelling, resulting in a reduced milk yield during the subsequent lactation. We investigated the effects of an altered endocrine environment on mammary gene expression at different stages of the dry period. Mammary gland biopsies from in vivo-cooled (CL) or heat-stressed (HT) cows were collected at d 3 and 35 relative to dry-off and divided into explants. Explants were incubated in vitro for 24 h in one of three media: Basal: no prolactin or estrogen; CL-mimic: Basal + low prolactin + high 17β-estradiol, or HT-mimic: Basal + high prolactin + low 17β-estradiol. Real time qPCR was used to quantify gene expression. We established that late-gestation heat stress changes the expression of prolactin and oestrogen receptors, downregulates genes involved in apoptosis, autophagy and proliferation at d 3 and upregulates genes related to those cellular processes at d 35. Moreover, compared with in vivo treatments, we showed that the expression of fewer genes was impacted by in vitro treatments which aimed to mimic the hormonal response of cows exposed to a different environment. Further research will continue to uncover the mechanisms behind the production impairments caused by late-gestation heat stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals' Transcriptome Response to Environment Change)
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Open AccessArticle
Spatiotemporal Overlap between the European Brown Hare and Its Potential Predators and Competitors
Animals 2021, 11(2), 562; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020562 - 21 Feb 2021
Viewed by 263
Abstract
Analysis of spatiotemporal partitioning is pivotal to shed light on interspecific coexistence. Most research effort has involved large-sized carnivores and their prey, whereas little attention has been devoted to lagomorphs. We assessed spatiotemporal overlap among the European brown hare Lepus europaeus and its [...] Read more.
Analysis of spatiotemporal partitioning is pivotal to shed light on interspecific coexistence. Most research effort has involved large-sized carnivores and their prey, whereas little attention has been devoted to lagomorphs. We assessed spatiotemporal overlap among the European brown hare Lepus europaeus and its potential competitors and predators through camera-trapping in an area in Central Italy. We estimated the interspecific patterns of the spatiotemporal activity rhythms of brown hares, its potential predators (the red fox Vulpes vulpes, the pine marten Martes martes, the domestic cat Felis catus, and the domestic dog Canis familiaris), and a competitor, the roe deer Capreolus capreolus. Brown hare activity was studied in natural conditions as well as in a fenced area that excluded terrestrial predators and competitors. Free-ranging hares developed a more nocturnal behavior to avoid diurnal predators (i.e., domestic carnivores and martens). Although high temporal overlap was observed between free-ranging brown hares and both red foxes (82%) and roe deer (81%), hares avoided fox by being more active on darkest nights, as well as avoided roe deer through spatial partitioning. We suggest that hares may adapt their spatiotemporal behavior to avoid potential predators and competitors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
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Open AccessArticle
A De Novo Mutation in COL1A1 in a Holstein Calf with Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type II
Animals 2021, 11(2), 561; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020561 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 288
Abstract
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) type II is a genetic connective tissue disorder characterized by bone fragility, severe skeletal deformities and shortened limbs. OI usually causes perinatal death of affected individuals. OI type II diagnosis in humans is established by the identification of heterozygous mutations [...] Read more.
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) type II is a genetic connective tissue disorder characterized by bone fragility, severe skeletal deformities and shortened limbs. OI usually causes perinatal death of affected individuals. OI type II diagnosis in humans is established by the identification of heterozygous mutations in genes coding for collagens. The purpose of this study was to characterize the pathological phenotype of an OI type II-affected neonatal Holstein calf and to identify the causative genetic variant by whole-genome sequencing (WGS). The calf had acute as well as intrauterine fractures, abnormally shaped long bones and localized arthrogryposis. Genetic analysis revealed a private heterozygous missense variant in COL1A1 (c.3917T>A) located in the fibrillar collagen NC1 domain (p.Val1306Glu) that most likely occurred de novo. This confirmed the diagnosis of OI type II and represents the first report of a pathogenic variant in the fibrillar collagen NC domain of COL1A1 associated to OI type II in domestic animals. Furthermore, this study highlights the utility of WGS-based precise diagnostics for understanding congenital disorders in cattle and the need for continued surveillance for rare lethal genetic disorders in cattle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Congenital Malformation in Domestic Animals)
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Open AccessArticle
LC-MS/MS Based Metabolomics Reveal Candidate Biomarkers and Metabolic Changes in Different Buffalo Species
Animals 2021, 11(2), 560; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020560 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 260
Abstract
Consumers have shown more and more interest in high-quality and healthy dairy products and buffalo milk is commercially more viable than other milks in producing superior dairy products due to its higher contents of fat, crude protein, and total solids. Metabolomics is one [...] Read more.
Consumers have shown more and more interest in high-quality and healthy dairy products and buffalo milk is commercially more viable than other milks in producing superior dairy products due to its higher contents of fat, crude protein, and total solids. Metabolomics is one of the most powerful strategies in molecular mechanism research however, little study has been focused on the milk metabolites in different buffalo species. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the underlying molecular mechanism of the fatty synthesis and candidate biomarkers by analyzing the metabolomic profiles. Milk of three groups of buffaloes, including 10 Mediterranean, 12 Murrah, and 10 crossbred buffaloes (Murrah × local swamp buffalo), were collected and UPLC-Q-Orbitrap HRMS was used to obtain the metabolomic profiles. Results showed that milk fatty acid in Mediterranean buffalo was significantly higher than Murrah buffalo and crossbred buffalo. A total of 1837/726 metabolites was identified in both positive and negative electrospray ionization (ESI±) mode, including 19 significantly different metabolites between Mediterranean and Murrah buffalo, and 18 different metabolites between Mediterranean and crossbred buffalo. We found 11 of the different metabolites were both significantly different between Mediterranean vs. Murrah group and Mediterranean vs crossbred group, indicating that they can be used as candidate biomarkers of Mediterranean buffalo milk. Further analysis found that the different metabolites were mainly enriched in fat synthesis related pathways such as fatty acid biosynthesis, unsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis, and linoleic acid metabolism, indicating that the priority of different pathways affected the milk fat content in different buffalo species. These specific metabolites may be used as biomarkers in the identification of milk quality and molecular breeding of high milk fat buffalo. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasound Imaging of Prostate Gland in Neutered Dogs
Animals 2021, 11(2), 559; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020559 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 273
Abstract
Prostatic neoplasia (PN) occurs in 5–7% of dogs with prostatic disease, with castrated dogs having the same or higher prevalence when compared to intact dogs. Considering the promising results achieved by performing contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) in intact dogs to detect PN, the present [...] Read more.
Prostatic neoplasia (PN) occurs in 5–7% of dogs with prostatic disease, with castrated dogs having the same or higher prevalence when compared to intact dogs. Considering the promising results achieved by performing contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) in intact dogs to detect PN, the present study aimed to acquire data on the prostatic perfusion pattern in neutered dogs. CEUS was performed in 64 neutered dogs, using a 5–7.5 MHz linear transducer with coded harmonic capability, dedicated analytical software, and a second-generation contrast agent, SonoVue. After B-mode evaluation was performed to assess mean prostate volume, the CEUS examination was undertaken. The flow of contrast agent was visible 10 s after injection. The subcapsular vessels were highlighted and produced rapid peripheral rim enhancement. Subsequently, the contrast agent reached the prostatic urethra via the parenchymal arterioles and gradually reached the entire prostate. Perfusion peak intensity (PPI) and time to peak (TTP) values were respectively 45.3% and 34.1 s. The measured parameters were compared with those obtained in previous studies on intact dogs with normal and with pathological patterns. In this study, CEUS showed features that may be promising for its use as a diagnostic tool for early detection of PN in neutered dogs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Veterinary and Comparative Reproductive Pathology)
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Open AccessArticle
CircAgtpbp1 Acts as a Molecular Sponge of miR-543-5p to Regulate the Secretion of GH in Rat Pituitary Cells
Animals 2021, 11(2), 558; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020558 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 129
Abstract
CircRNAs have been identified to be expressed differently and stably in numerous species and tissues, but their functions in growth hormone (GH) secretion are still largely unknown. In summary, we have revealed a circRNA-miRNA-mRNA network that may play a biological role in the [...] Read more.
CircRNAs have been identified to be expressed differently and stably in numerous species and tissues, but their functions in growth hormone (GH) secretion are still largely unknown. In summary, we have revealed a circRNA-miRNA-mRNA network that may play a biological role in the rat pituitary gland. First, we verified the chromosome location information of circAgtpbp1 according to sequencing analysis. The circAgtpbp1 characteristics were authenticated through PCR, qRT–PCR, treating with RNase and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). Second, we detected the expression pattern of circAgtpbp1 in the rat anterior pituitary by qRT–PCR. We also designed circAgtpbp1 siRNA and constructed overexpression plasmid to evaluate the effect of circAgtpbp1 function on GH secretion by qRT–PCR, ELISA and Western blot. CircAgtpbp1 is a stable, truly circular molecule. We found that circAgtpbp1 interacted with miR-543-5p and can regulate GH secretion in pituitary cells through a circAgtpbp1-miR-543-5p-GH axis. Overall, the evidence generated by our study suggests that circAgtpbp1 can act as a sponge of miR-543-5p to reduce the inhibitory effect of miR-543-5p on Gh1 and further promote GH secretion. These findings expand our existing knowledge on the mechanisms of hormone regulation in the pituitary gland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring How White-Faced Sakis Control Digital Visual Enrichment Systems
Animals 2021, 11(2), 557; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020557 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 256
Abstract
Computer-enabled screen systems containing visual elements have long been employed with captive primates for assessing preference, reactions and for husbandry reasons. These screen systems typically play visual enrichment to primates without them choosing to trigger the system and without their consent. Yet, what [...] Read more.
Computer-enabled screen systems containing visual elements have long been employed with captive primates for assessing preference, reactions and for husbandry reasons. These screen systems typically play visual enrichment to primates without them choosing to trigger the system and without their consent. Yet, what videos primates, especially monkeys, would prefer to watch of their own volition and how to design computers and methods that allow choice is an open question. In this study, we designed and tested, over several weeks, an enrichment system that facilitates white-faced saki monkeys to trigger different visual stimuli in their regular zoo habitat while automatically logging and recording their interaction. By analysing this data, we show that the sakis triggered underwater and worm videos over the forest, abstract art, and animal videos, and a control condition of no-stimuli. We also note that the sakis used the device significantly less when playing animal videos compared to other conditions. Yet, plotting the data over time revealed an engagement bell curve suggesting confounding factors of novelty and habituation. As such, it is unknown if the stimuli or device usage curve caused the changes in the sakis interactions over time. Looking at the sakis’ behaviours and working with zoo personnel, we noted that the stimuli conditions resulted in significantly decreasing the sakis’ scratching behaviour. For the research community, this study builds on methods that allow animals to control computers in a zoo environment highlighting problems in quantifying animal interactions with computer devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal-Centered Computing)
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Open AccessArticle
European Consumers’ Willingness to Pay for Red Meat Labelling Attributes
Animals 2021, 11(2), 556; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020556 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 201
Abstract
Food consumption in Europe is changing. Red meat consumption has been steadily decreasing in the past decades. The rising interest of consumers for healthier and more sustainable meat products provides red meat producers with the opportunity to differentiate their offers by ecolabels, origin [...] Read more.
Food consumption in Europe is changing. Red meat consumption has been steadily decreasing in the past decades. The rising interest of consumers for healthier and more sustainable meat products provides red meat producers with the opportunity to differentiate their offers by ecolabels, origin and health claims. This international study analyses the European consumer preferences for red meat (beef, lamb and goat) in seven countries: Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Through a choice experiment, 2900 responses were collected. Mixed multinomial logit models were estimated to identify heterogeneous preferences among consumers at the country level. The results indicate substantial differences between the most relevant attributes for the average consumer, as well as their willingness to pay for them in each country. Nevertheless, national origin and organic labels were highly valued in most countries. Full article
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