University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
Recent publications
The age-related reproductive disorders are the main concerns in old birds. It was suggested that a drop in egg production and reproductive performance, towards the end of their laying period was caused partly by a decrease in the baseline concentration of plasma LH. Urtica dioica (nettle) is a plant with natural aromatase inhibitors. Steroid hormone levels are regulated by inhibition of the aromatase enzyme. Few studies have examined the effect of nettle on the egg production in adult hens. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of diet supplemented with nettle powder (NP) in aged quails. One hundred and forty-52-week-old Japanese quails were randomly assigned to four treatments consisting of seven replicates (n = 5; four females and one male) and fed with diets containing NP at 0% (control group), 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5% (treatment groups). At 62 week of age, our results indicated the NP improved egg production, feed conversion ratio, eggshell thickness and Haugh unit (p < .05). Notably, fertility and hatchability of fertile eggs were significantly increased, while total embryonic mortality decreased significantly by supplementing diet with nettle powder (p < .05). Higher luteinizing hormone, lower oestrogen, malondialdehyde and total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were associated with percent of the nettle powder in diet (p ≤ .05). Elevated follicle-stimulating hormone/luteinizing hormone ratio ≥4 is associated with low egg production in control group and nettle supplementation can balance FSH/LH ratio to ≤2.7. It is concluded that nettle powder could be used as a worthwhile feed additive at the late laying period of aged quails. • HIGHLIGHTS • Nettle powder can be used as a food additive with aged quails at late laying period. • Addition of 1 and 1.5% nettle powder improves egg production, FCR, egg shell thickness. • Nettle enhances reproductive performances, such as fertility, hatchability, weight of ovary, and weight of follicles by balancing reproductive hormones at late laying period.
Morphological traits, such as white patches, floppy ears and curly tails, are ubiquitous in domestic animals and are referred to as the 'domestication syndrome'. A commonly discussed hypothesis that has the potential to provide a unifying explanation for these traits is the 'neural crest/domestication syndrome hypothesis'. Although this hypothesis has the potential to explain most traits of the domestication syndrome, it only has an indirect connection to the reduction of brain size, which is a typical trait of domestic animals. We discuss how the expensive-tissue hypothesis might help explain brain-size reduction in domestication.
Tendinopathies are common overuse disorders that arise both in athletes and the general population. Available tendon treatments are used both for women and men without distinction. However, the existence of a sex-based difference in tendon biology is widely demonstrated. Since basic research represents the foundation for treatment development, an equal female–male representation should be pursued in preclinical studies. This systematic review quantified the current evidence by analyzing 150 studies on 8231 animals. Preclinical studies largely neglected the importance of sex, none analyzed sex-based differences, and only 4% of the studies reported disaggregated data suitable for the analysis of treatment results in males and females. There is an alarming female under-representation, in particular in the field of injective therapies. Despite the growing awareness on the importance of investigating treatments in both males and females, the investigated field proved resistant from properly designing studies including both sexes, and the lack of sex-representation remains critical.
Atmospheric ammonia (NH 3) released from agriculture is contributing significantly to acidification and atmospheric NH 3 may have on human health is much less readily available. The potential direct impact of NH 3 on the health of the general public is under-represented in scientific literature, though there have been several studies which indicate that NH 3 has a direct effect on the respiratory health of those who handle livestock. These health impacts can include a reduced lung function, irritation to the throat and eyes, and increased coughing and phlegm expulsion. More recent studies have indicated that agricultural NH 3 may directly influence the early onset of asthma in young children. In addition to the potential direct impact of ammonia, it is also a substantial contributor to the fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) fraction (namely the US and Europe); where it accounts for the formation of 30% and 50% of all PM 2.5 respectively. PM 2.5 has the ability to penetrate deep into the lungs and cause long term illnesses such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and lung cancer. Hence, PM 2.5 causes economic losses which equate to billions of dollars (US) to the global economy annually. Both premature deaths associated with the health impacts from PM 2.5 and economic losses could be mitigated with a reduction in NH 3 emissions resulting from agriculture. As agriculture contributes to more than 81% of all global NH 3 emissions , it is imperative that food production does not come at a cost to the world's ability to breathe; where reductions in NH 3 emissions can be easier to achieve than other associated pollutants.
Automatic monitoring tools can be useful for assessing the health and welfare status of animals. Specifically, a computer-vision-based tracking tool could be helpful to remotely and automatically monitoring the behaviour of individual animals. However, animals housed in partly covered pens present a particular challenge for animal tracking due to the possibility for animals to disappear from and reappear in the field of view (FOV). The aim of this study was to develop a tracking method for weaner pigs housed in partly covered pens, with the particular aim to re-identify individuals when they reappear in the FOV. In this study a one-shot tracker in which the detection and re-identification (re-ID) branches were jointly trained was adopted for tracking pigs. Three associations based on re-ID features and intersection over union (IoU) were used for matching the correct ID, especially re-identifying individuals reappearing in the FOV. Two sets of short videos were selected to test the model, with a first set of two short videos (mean ± SD: 1m50s ± 20) and a second set of three short videos (mean ± SD: 10m08s ± 3m52s). The model reached the performance of 91.41% and 88.33% in MOTA and IDF1 on the first set of videos, and 81.17% in mean tracking percentage per individual on the second set. The test on one long video (from the same pen, length: 85 m) achieved a tracking percentage of 16.78% per individual. The suggested method improved automatic individual behaviour analysis in complex environments where animals can leave the FOV.
In many animal species, members of one sex, most often females, exhibit a strong preference for mating partners with particular traits or resources. However, when females sequentially mate with multiple partners, strategies underlying female choice are not very well understood. Particularly, little is known if under such sequential polyandry females mate truly randomly, or if they actively try to spread mating events across multiple partners. In the present study, we used the highly promiscuous poison frog Allobates femoralis to investigate whether promiscuity could result from a preference for novel mates. Furthermore, we examined the importance of call characteristics for mate choice. We conducted mate choice experiments in a laboratory setup, by presenting females with recent mating partners or novel males. We recorded call characteristics of both males and the time females spent close to each male. In our trials, females preferred previous mating partners over novel males and also males with shorter advertisement calls. Results from previous studies on A. femoralis suggest that females in our trials recognized previous partners based on individual call characteristics. While mating decisions in the wild and in the laboratory might differ, our study provides first evidence for female mate choice in a poison frog with sequential polyandry. Females and males of the poison frog Allobates femoralis mate with multiple partners. We investigated the influence of call characteristics on female mating decisions, and if females avoid previous partners to actively spread reproduction across multiple partners. In our 2‐way choice experiment, females chose previous mating partners over novel ones and preferred males with shorter calls. Females likely recognize familiar males through individual call characteristics. This study provides first evidence for female mate choice in this species with sequential polyandry.
Spent brewery grains (BSG) are the main by-product of beer production and are incorporated in rations of food-delivering animals, mainly dairy cows. Like other agricultural commodities, BSG can be contaminated by a broad spectrum of natural and synthetic undesirable substances , which can be hazardous to animal and human health as well as to the environment. The co-occurrence of mycotoxins, phytoestrogens, other fungal and plant secondary metabolites, along with pesticides, was investigated in 21 BSG samples collected in dairy farms in Austria. For this purpose, a validated multi-metabolite liquid chromatography/electrospray ionisation tandem mass spectrometry (LC/ESI-MS/MS) was employed. Metabolites derived from Fusarium, Aspergillus, Alternaria and pesticide residues, were ubiquitous in the samples. Zearalenone (ZEN), T-2 and HT-2 toxins were the only regulated mycotoxin detected, albeit at concentrations below the European guidance values for animal feeds. Ergot alkaloids, Penicillium-derived metabolites, and phytoestrogens had occurrence rates of 90, 48 and 29%, respectively. Penicillium metabolites presented the highest levels among the fungal compounds, indicating contamination during storage. Aflatoxins (AFs), ochratoxins and deoxynivalenol (DON) were not detected. Out of the 16 detected pesticides, two fungicides, ametoctradin (9.5%) and mandi-propamid (14.3%) revealed concentrations exceeding their respective maximum residue level (MRL) (0.01 mg kg À1) for barley in two samples. Although based on European guidance and MRL values the levels of the detected compounds probably do not pose acute risks for cattle, the impact of the long-time exposure to such mixtures of natural and synthetic toxicants on animal health and food safety are unknown and must be elucidated. ARTICLE HISTORY
Few studies exist addressing the effects of guide dog harnesses on dogs biomechanics. The aim of this study was to investigate how two different harness types affect ground reaction forces and stride length. Twelve certified guide dogs were tested under different conditions: walking with a collar and leash, walking with the harness used daily (Norwegian type with straight handle) and walking with a Y-harness using a straight or a curved handle. The parameters studied included maximum vertical force, vertical impulse and stride length. Compared to walking with a collar and leash, none of the harnesses, when used with a leash, had an effect on the evaluated parameters. However, both harnesses, when used with a handle and under re-enactment of the lead work, showed clear effects on the impulse. Stride length was shortened if the Y-harness with handles was used. Future studies should focus on the type of attachment of the harness, as well as the angle of attachment, which is altered by the size of the handler. The development of individually adapted harnesses in order to subject these animals to as little stress as possible during their daily work should be one of the future areas of research.
This study investigated silage quality characteristics and ruminal fiber degradability of grass and straw ensiled with either anaerobic fungi (AF) supernatant with active fungal enzymes or mixed ruminal fluid as novel silage additives. Compared to control silages, AF supernatant improved the quality of grass and straw silages as evidenced by decreased pH, acetic acid concentration, and dry matter losses. Likewise, mixed ruminal fluid enhanced lactic acid fermentation, which further resulted in lower pH of the treated grass silage. The ruminal fiber degradability was determined using in situ incubations and, compared to controls, the cellulose degradability was higher for grass silage with AF supernatant, whereas ruminal degradability of straw silage was reduced by this treatment. In contrast, mixed ruminal fluid did not influence fiber degradability of silages in the rumen. Concluding, both novel additives improved silage quality, whereas only AF supernatant enhanced ruminal fiber degradability of grass silage and therefore may represent an approach for improving forage utilization by ruminants. Key points • Enzymes of anaerobic fungi supernatant improve quality of grass and straw silages. • Mixed ruminal fluid enhances lactic acid fermentation when ensiling grass and straw. • Enzymes of anaerobic fungi supernatant increase ruminal grass silage degradability.
Raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) are widely used as unconventional diets for dogs and cats at different life stages, despite concerns regarding nutritional adequacy and microbial contamina-tion. The aim of this study was to evaluate both the nutritional and hygiene quality profile of RMBDs purchased in Germany. For this purpose, crude nutrients were assessed in 44 RMBDs and compared to declared values. In addition, selected minerals were determined in 31 RMBDs la-belled as complete and compared to the minimum requirement (MR) for intended species and life stages. Aerobic colony count (ACC) and Enterobacteriaceae were used to assess the hygiene quality of 37 commercial RMBDs, while the presence of Salmonella spp. was examined in 10 products. Fat and protein content exceeded tolerated deviation from declared values in 33% and 45% of RMBDs, respectively. Each RMBD showed at least one concern regarding nutrient content. The RMBDs had high fat contents (mean 69, range 33–95 g/Mcal) that were negatively correlated with protein (r = −0.74, p < 0.0001). Considerable contaminations by ACC and Enterobacteriaceae were found (2.61 × 108 ± 3.63 x108 and 3.61 × 106 ± 8.39 x106 CFU/g, respectively). A higher count of Enterobacteriaceae was detected in a frozen RMBDs made of poultry or carcasses from different animals, compared to the thawed counterpart (p = 0.003), as well as compared to other sources, such as beef, horse, and lamb, regardless of the storage condition. Salmonella spp. were found in 2/10 RMBDs. This study confirmed that feeding commercial RMBDs might pose a risk to pet health.
In order to spread systemically, resistance against complement and other factors present in serum is an important trait in pathogenic bacteria. The variable proteins of Mycoplasma agalactiae (Vpmas) have been shown to affect differential adhesion, invasion and immune evasion, and undergo high-frequency phase-variation in expression. However, nothing is known about their involvement in M. agalactiae’s serum susceptibility. To evaluate this, the PG2 strain, the GM139 strain and the six Vpma phase-locked mutants (PLMs, PLMU to PLMZ) were tested for their ability to survive in the presence of non-sensitized and sensitized sheep serum, as well as guinea pig complement. Additionally, the reactivity of the sensitized sheep serum was analysed on the strains via western blotting. Overall data demonstrate PG2 strain to be more susceptible to sheep serum compared to the GM139 strain bearing a different Vpma profile. Significant differences were also observed between the different PLMs, with PLMU and PLMX showing the highest serum susceptibility in serum, while the other PLMs expressing longer Vpma proteins were more resistant. The results are in good correlation with previous studies where shorter lipoprotein variants contributed to a higher susceptibility to complement. Since none of the tested strains and PLMs were susceptible to non-sensitized sheep serum, antibodies seem to play an important role in serum killing.
Chromosomal rearrangements involving the MDS1 and EVI1 complex locus (MECOM) on chromosome 3q26 define an aggressive subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that is associated with chemotherapy resistance and dismal prognosis. Established treatment regimens commonly fail in these patients, hence there is an urgent need for new therapeutic concepts that will require a better understanding of the molecular and cellular functions of the EVI1 oncogene. To characterize gene regulatory functions of EVI1 and associated dependencies in AML, we developed experimentally tractable human and murine disease models, investigated the transcriptional consequences of EVI1 withdrawal in vitro and in vivo, and performed the first genome-wide CRISPR screens in EVI1-dependent AML. By integrating conserved transcriptional targets with genetic dependency data, we identify and characterize the ETS transcription factor ERG as a direct transcriptional target of EVI1 that is aberrantly expressed and selectively required in both human and murine EVI1-driven AML. EVI1 controls the expression of ERG and occupies a conserved intragenic enhancer region in AML cell lines and primary AML patient samples. Suppression of ERG induces terminal differentiation of EVI1-driven AML cells, whereas ectopic expression of ERG abrogates their dependence on EVI1, indicating that major oncogenic functions of EVI1 are mediated through aberrant transcriptional activation of ERG. Interfering with this regulatory axis may provide entry points for the development of rational targeted therapies.
There are only about 7,100 adolescent and adult cheetahs remaining in the wild. With the majority occurring outside protected areas, their numbers are rapidly declining. Evidence-based conservation measures are essential for the survival of this species. Genetic data is routinely used to inform conservation strategies, e.g., by establishing conservation units (CU). A commonly used marker in conservation genetics is mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Here, we investigated the cheetah's phylogeography using a large-scale mtDNA data set to refine subspecies distributions and better assign individuals to CUs. Our dataset mostly consisted of historic samples to cover the cheetah’s whole range as the species has been extinct in most of its former distribution. While our genetic data largely agree with geography-based subspecies assignments, several geographic regions show conflicting mtDNA signals. Our analyses support previous findings that evolutionary forces such as incomplete lineage sorting or mitochondrial capture likely confound the mitochondrial phylogeography of this species, especially in East and, to some extent, in Northeast Africa. We caution that subspecies assignments solely based on mtDNA should be treated carefully and argue for an additional standardized nuclear single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) marker set for subspecies identification and monitoring. However, the detection of the A. j. soemmeringii specific haplogroup by a newly designed Amplification-Refractory Mutation System (ARMS) can already provide support for conservation measures.
The evolutionary success of parasitic worms causes significant economic losses and animal health problems, including in the small ruminant industry. The hematophagous nematode Haemonchus contortus is a common endoparasite that infects wild and domestic ruminants worldwide, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. To date, the most commonly applied control strategy is the administration of anthelminthic drugs. The main disadvantages of these chemicals are their ecotoxic effects, the necessary withdrawal period (especially important in dairy animals) and the increasing development of resistance. Vaccines offer an attractive alternative control strategy against Haemonchus infections. In previous years, several potential vaccine antigens prepared from H. contortus using the latest technologies have been assessed in clinical trials using different methods and strategies. This review highlights the current state of knowledge on anti-H. contortus vaccines (covering native, recombinant and DNA-based vaccines), including an evaluation, as well a discussion of the challenges and achievements in developing protective, efficient, and long-lasting vaccines to control H. contortus infection and haemonchosis in small ruminants. This paper also addresses novel developments tackling the challenge of glycosylation of putative candidates in recombinant form.
Incisor malocclusions are common in horses. As yet, an evidence-based understanding of incisor occlusal surface angle dynamics and normocclusal range is missing. Orthodontic measuring devices could help unravel this information objectively but imply measurement validation. We evaluated intra- and interexaminer variability of repeated sagittal and transversal incisor occlusal surface angle measures using a commercial orthodontic gauge device (MaPHorse1). Five examiners (two experienced, three inexperienced) measured six cadaver heads on 2 consecutive days in a blinded block-randomization design, resulting in 16 measures per examiner*head. Sagittal and transversal angle measures revealed low intraexaminer variability at scale-level independent mean SDs of α 0.58° and α 0.69°, respectively. Sagittal angle measures associate with low interexaminer variability, showing small mean angle differences (max. α 0.51° ± 0.35°), small scatter, and more consistent data reproducibility. Despite comparable mean interexaminer differences, the spread of transversal angle measures was relevantly higher using the proposed landmarks (average 2.2-fold higher interquartile range). The measurement performance of experienced and inexperienced examiners did not systematically differ. The time required for individual measurements was already comparableafter 24/96 repetitions. This instrument may help deciphering sagittal angle normocclusal range and orthognathic dynamics and, with a proposed procedural amendment, transversal angle as well.
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1,285 members
Rupert Mazzucco
  • Department of Biomedical Sciences
Ivan Maggini
  • Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution
Katja Silbermayr
  • Department of Pathobiology
Karin Zitterl-Eglseer
  • Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health
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Veterinärplatz 1, 1210, Vienna, Austria
Head of institution
Ao.Univ.-Prof., Dr.med.vet. Petra Winter, Dipl.ECBHM
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www.vetmeduni.ac.at
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01-25077-0
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