Recent Submissions

  • Journal Article

    The Role of Socio-Economic Determinants of Horse Farms for Grassland Management, Vegetation Composition and Ecological Value 

    Hüppe, Cecilia Frauke; Schmitz, Anja; Tonn, Bettina; Isselstein, Johannes
    Sustainability 2020; 12(24) p.1-18: Art. 10641
    Socio-economic context is increasingly seen as a decisive factor for sustainable agricultural land use. The high prevalence of part-time farming and frequent lack of formal agricultural education within the equine sector are often seen as reasons why horse-grazed pastures do not fulfill their biodiversity potential. In spite of the substantial variability within horse farming, little is known about the relationship of socio-economic determinants with vegetation characteristics of horse-grazed grasslands. We surveyed 122 horse farms in Germany, classifying them into four socio-economic classes according to farm income type and farm managers’ agricultural education. We recorded farm structure parameters, grassland management practices and vegetation characteristics. Socio-economic class partly explained the great variability in farm structure that we observed. In contrast to our expectation, income type and agricultural education did not distinctly affect grassland management and were neither directly nor indirectly related to vegetation characteristics. Part-time farming and lack of agricultural education thus did not adversely affect the ecological value of horse-grazed grasslands. By contrast, both farm structure and paddock level management affected grassland vegetation and ecological value. Therefore, the socio-economic context of horse farms should be addressed in further research with strategies targeting the development of sustainable grassland management in horse keeping.
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  • Journal Article

    Diversity of Expression Types of Ht Genes Conferring Resistance in Maize to Exserohilum turcicum 

    Ludwig Navarro, Barbara; Hanekamp, Hendrik; Koopmann, Birger; von Tiedemann, Andreas
    Frontiers in Plant Science 2020; 11 p.1-11: Art. 607850
    Northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) is an important leaf disease in maize (Zea mays) worldwide and is spreading into new areas with expanding maize cultivation, like Germany. Exserohilum turcicum, causal agent of NCLB, infects and colonizes leaf tissue and induces elongated necrotic lesions. Disease control is based on fungicide application and resistant cultivars displaying monogenic resistance. Symptom expression and resistance mechanisms differ in plants carrying different resistance genes. Therefore, histological studies and DNA quantification were performed to compare the pathogenesis of E. turcicum races in maize lines exhibiting compatible or incompatible interactions. Maize plants from the differential line B37 with and without resistance genes Ht1, Ht2, Ht3, and Htn1 were inoculated with either incompatible or compatible races (race 0, race 1 and race 23N) of E. turcicum. Leaf segments from healthy and inoculated plants were collected at five different stages of infection and disease development from penetration (0–1 days post inoculation - dpi), until full symptom expression (14–18 dpi). Symptoms of resistance responses conveyed by the different Ht genes considerably differed between Ht1 (necrotic lesions with chlorosis), Ht2 (chlorosis and small lesions), Ht3 (chlorotic spots) and Htn1 (no lesions or wilt-type lesions). In incompatible interactions, fungal DNA was only detected in very low amounts. At 10 dpi, DNA content was elevated in all compatible interactions. Histological studies with Chlorazol Black E staining indicated that E. turcicum formed appressoria and penetrated the leaf surface directly in both types of interaction. In contrast to incompatible interactions, however, the pathogen was able to penetrate into xylem vessels at 6 dpi in compatible interactions and strongly colonized the mesophyll at 12 dpi, which is considered the crucial process differentiating susceptible from resistant interactions. Following the distinct symptom expressions, resistance mechanisms conferred by Ht1, Ht2, Ht3, and Htn1 genes apparently are different. Lower disease levels and a delayed progress of infection in compatible interactions with resistant lines imply that maize R genes to E. turcicum are associated with or confer additional quantitative resistance.
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  • Journal Article

    Environmental Concern and Urbanization in India: Towards Psychological Complexity 

    Bettin, Johannes; Wollni, Meike
    Sustainability 2020; 12(24) p.1-25: Art. 10402
    Urbanizing social-ecological systems often experience environmental degradation, especially in the Global South. Traditional urban psychology has attributed this to decreasing environmental concern due to weakening connections to nature. However, urban psychological research has barely considered how predictions may improve when including psychological complexity, exemplified by context, in the urbanization-concern link. In this work, we test for sensitivity of a loss of nature connection to cultural context, for substitution by additional southern urban features, and for the emergence of aggregate preferences based on the feedback between these mediators in regard to the overall relationship. Our structural equations model is calibrated using original survey data from the globalized southern megacity Bangalore, India. The spatial explicitness of our data allows for representative sampling from its rich urban variation. Spatial lags of exogenous variables provide instrumental variables to control for endogeneity arising from feedback. The results suggest that modernization-induced value change is the main policy leverage that facilitates pro-environmental preferences within a uniquely Indian interplay of various urban psychological effects.
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  • Journal Article

    Mucilage Polysaccharide Composition and Exudation in Maize From Contrasting Climatic Regions 

    Nazari, Meisam; Riebeling, Sophie; Banfield, Callum C.; Akale, Asegidew; Crosta, Margherita; Mason-Jones, Kyle; Dippold, Michaela A.; Ahmed, Mutez Ali
    Frontiers in Plant Science 2020; 11 p.1-13: Art. 587610
    Mucilage, a gelatinous substance comprising mostly polysaccharides, is exuded by maize nodal and underground root tips. Although mucilage provides several benefits for rhizosphere functions, studies on the variation in mucilage amounts and its polysaccharide composition between genotypes are still lacking. In this study, eight maize (Zea mays L.) genotypes from different globally distributed agroecological zones were grown under identical abiotic conditions in a randomized field experiment. Mucilage exudation amount, neutral sugars and uronic acids were quantified. Galactose (∼39–42%), fucose (∼22–30%), mannose (∼11–14%), and arabinose (∼8–11%) were the major neutral sugars in nodal root mucilage. Xylose (∼1–4%), and glucose (∼1–4%) occurred only in minor proportions. Glucuronic acid (∼3–5%) was the only uronic acid detected. The polysaccharide composition differed significantly between maize genotypes. Mucilage exudation was 135 and 125% higher in the Indian (900 M Gold) and Kenyan (DH 02) genotypes than in the central European genotypes, respectively. Mucilage exudation was positively associated with the vapor pressure deficit of the genotypes’ agroecological zone. The results indicate that selection for environments with high vapor pressure deficit may favor higher mucilage exudation, possibly because mucilage can delay the onset of hydraulic failure during periods of high vapor pressure deficit. Genotypes from semi-arid climates might offer sources of genetic material for beneficial mucilage traits.
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  • Journal Article

    Animal Welfare Programs in Germany—An Empirical Study on the Attitudes of Pig Farmers 

    Schukat, Sirkka; von Plettenberg, Louisa; Heise, Heinke
    Agriculture 2020; 10(12) p.1-17: Art. 609
    In Europe, there is ongoing social criticism of conventional pig farming and demands for higher farm animal welfare standards. This applies primarily to products from pig production, as consumers criticize, among other things, the animals’ housing conditions, tail docking, neutering, or keeping them on slatted floors. Various animal welfare programs have tried to meet the consumers’ demands. Pig farmers are directly involved in the production process and are therefore key stakeholders for the successful implementation of animal welfare programs such as the German Initiative Animal Welfare. The Initiative Animal Welfare was founded in 2015 and serves as an example in this study, as it has been established for two rounds and involves high numbers of participants. However, little is known about the attitudes of pig farmers towards this specific animal welfare program. Thus, the aim of this study is to investigate these attitudes towards animal welfare programs using the example of German pig producers and identify group differences. Based on an online survey of German conventional pig farmers, four clusters were formed which differ in their attitude to the Initiative Animal Welfare. Overall, all farmers, regardless of the cluster, feel publicly pressured by politics and the media. In addition, all farmers are skeptical about the effort involved in participating in the Initiative Animal Welfare (IAW), especially with regard to the additional documentation requirements and unannounced controls. The findings can provide guidance for the design of animal welfare programs taking into account the needs of farmers.
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  • Journal Article

    Frameshift Variant in Novel Adenosine-A1-Receptor Homolog Associated With Bovine Spastic Syndrome/Late-Onset Bovine Spastic Paresis in Holstein Sires 

    Krull, Frederik; Hirschfeld, Marc; Wemheuer, Wilhelm Ewald; Brenig, Bertram
    Frontiers in Genetics 2020; 11 p.1-13: Art. 591794
    Since their first description almost 100 years ago, bovine spastic paresis (BSP) and bovine spastic syndrome (BSS) are assumed to be inherited neuronal-progressive diseases in cattle. Affected animals are characterized by (frequent) spasms primarily located in the hind limbs, accompanied by severe pain symptoms and reduced vigor, thus initiating premature slaughter or euthanasia. Due to the late onset of BSP and BSS and the massively decreased lifespan of modern cattle, the importance of these diseases is underestimated. In the present study, BSP/BSS-affected German Holstein breeding sires from artificial insemination centers were collected and pedigree analysis, genome-wide association studies, whole genome resequencing, protein–protein interaction network analysis, and protein-homology modeling were performed to elucidate the genetic background. The analysis of 46 affected and 213 control cattle revealed four significantly associated positions on chromosome 15 (BTA15), i.e., AC_000172.1:g.83465449A>G (–log$_{10}$P = 19.17), AC_000172.1:g.81871849C>T (–log$_{10}$P = 8.31), AC_000172.1:g.81872621A>T (–log$_{10}$P = 6.81), and AC_000172.1:g.81872661G>C (–log$_{10}$P = 6.42). Two additional loci were significantly associated located on BTA8 and BTA19, i.e., AC_000165.1:g.71177788T>C and AC_000176.1:g.30140977T>G, respectively. Whole genome resequencing of five affected individuals and six unaffected relatives (two fathers, two mothers, a half sibling, and a full sibling) belonging to three different not directly related families was performed. After filtering, a homozygous loss of function variant was identified in the affected cattle, causing a frameshift in the so far unknown gene locus LOC100848076 encoding an adenosine-A1-receptor homolog. An allele frequency of the variant of 0.74 was determined in 3,093 samples of the 1000 Bull Genomes Project.
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  • Journal Article

    Biodiversity in Tomatoes: Is It Reflected in Nutrient Density and Nutritional Yields Under Organic Outdoor Production? 

    Erika, Cut; Griebel, Stefanie; Naumann, Marcel; Pawelzik, Elke
    Frontiers in Plant Science 2020; 11 p.1-14: Art. 589692
    In many regions of the world, human nutrition is still characterized by an insufficient intake of essential nutrients like minerals such as iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn). In view of decreasing resources and a growing world population, the efficiency and the sustainability of cultivation systems should be considered not only in terms of crop yield and profit margin but also in terms of the yield of essential nutrients. Tomatoes are the most consumed vegetable in the world. Organic outdoor tomato cultivation is generally characterized by a higher diversity of varieties and lower fertilization input compared to conventional production. A 2-year field experiment with a set of 20 cultivars was performed to evaluate their variation regarding fruit mineral concentrations [potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), phosphorous (P), Fe, and Zn], their contribution to the dietary reference intake (DRI), and the nutritional yields (adults ha$^{–1}$ year$^{–1}$). Results show that mineral concentrations differed significantly by cultivar and by year. However, even though significant genotype-by-year effects appear, several cultivars exhibit high genotype stability across years for the single traits studied. Taking this together with medium-to-high heritability, genetics strongly controls most studied traits. Among the cultivars, the contribution of 100 g fresh fruits varied from 4.5 to 7.7% for K, 0.8 to 1.8% for Ca, 2.3 to 4.4% for Mg, 3 to 6.6% for P, 3.1 to 6.9% for Fe, and 1.9 to 4.2% for Zn to meet daily requirements. Based on average fruit yields per hectare, the cultivars varied with regard to the nutritional yields for all the studied minerals, but most strongly for Fe (44–120 adults ha$^{–1}$ year$^{–1}$) and Zn (22–84 adults ha$^{–1}$ year$^{–1}$). In terms of contribution to the DRI and nutritional yield for Fe, the cocktail cultivar “Bartelly F1” produced the highest results, while for Zn the salad cultivar “Bocati F1” showed the highest values. Our results show that the targeted use of tomato biodiversity in organic outdoor production can be suitable to achieve high fruit yields as well as to produce high nutritional yields per unit area, thus contributing to more effective land use and improved food security. These findings also provide valuable insights for tomato breeders to improve the tomato fruit quality while maintaining yield.
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  • Journal Article

    Factors influencing German farmer’s decision to grow alley cropping systems as ecological focus areas: a regression analysis 

    Beer, Lara; Theuvsen, Ludwig
    International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 2020; 23(4) p.529-546
    The cultivation of alley cropping agricultural wood is an opportunity to comply with the greening requirements of the common agricultural policy (CAP; 2014-2020), but farmers are not permitted to display the whole alley cropping system (ACS) as ecological focus area (EFA) in Germany. They can display the agricultural wood stripes separately as EFA instead. The willingness of farmers is of key importance for a successful establishment, but, so far, the acceptance of this greening measure is extremely low. The aim of this paper is therefore to point out factors which have linkages to the acceptance of ACS as EFAs by conducting an online survey among German conventional farmers. The results of the regression analysis show that factors such as attitude towards agricultural wood, level of professional education, location and social environment affect the acceptance of ACS as EFA. To conclude, starting points that promote this type of greening measure are identified.
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  • Journal Article

    Using Local Convolutional Neural Networks for Genomic Prediction 

    Pook, Torsten; Freudenthal, Jan; Korte, Arthur; Simianer, Henner
    Frontiers in Genetics 2020; 11 p.1-14: Art. 561497
    The prediction of breeding values and phenotypes is of central importance for both livestock and crop breeding. In this study, we analyze the use of artificial neural networks (ANN) and, in particular, local convolutional neural networks (LCNN) for genomic prediction, as a region-specific filter corresponds much better with our prior genetic knowledge on the genetic architecture of traits than traditional convolutional neural networks. Model performances are evaluated on a simulated maize data panel (n = 10,000; p = 34,595) and real Arabidopsis data (n = 2,039; p = 180,000) for a variety of traits based on their predictive ability. The baseline LCNN, containing one local convolutional layer (kernel size: 10) and two fully connected layers with 64 nodes each, is outperforming commonly proposed ANNs (multi layer perceptrons and convolutional neural networks) for basically all considered traits. For traits with high heritability and large training population as present in the simulated data, LCNN are even outperforming state-of-the-art methods like genomic best linear unbiased prediction (GBLUP), Bayesian models and extended GBLUP, indicated by an increase in predictive ability of up to 24%. However, for small training populations, these state-of-the-art methods outperform all considered ANNs. Nevertheless, the LCNN still outperforms all other considered ANNs by around 10%. Minor improvements to the tested baseline network architecture of the LCNN were obtained by increasing the kernel size and of reducing the stride, whereas the number of subsequent fully connected layers and their node sizes had neglectable impact. Although gains in predictive ability were obtained for large scale data sets by using LCNNs, the practical use of ANNs comes with additional problems, such as the need of genotyping all considered individuals, the lack of estimation of heritability and reliability. Furthermore, breeding values are additive by design, whereas ANN-based estimates are not. However, ANNs also comes with new opportunities, as networks can easily be extended to account for additional inputs (omics, weather etc.) and outputs (multi-trait models), and computing time increases linearly with the number of individuals. With advances in high-throughput phenotyping and cheaper genotyping, ANNs can become a valid alternative for genomic prediction.
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  • Journal Article

    Bringing Policy Decisions to the People—Education for Sustainable Development through a Digital Simulation Game 

    Ivens, Sven; Wiese, Gerlinde; Dittert, Klaus; Mußhoff, Oliver; Oberle, Monika
    Sustainability 2020; 12(20) p.1-18: Art. 8743
    After repeated warnings by the European Commission regarding high nitrate concentrations in German waters, in 2017, Germany implemented a new fertilizer application ordinance (FO) with stricter nitrate value limits. The new regulations have severely affected agricultural regions in Germany and could lead to a high number of job losses if farmers must conform to the new regulations and do not implement new production methods. Therefore, a simulation game was developed to educate farmers and residents about the new FO and to facilitate adaptation to the new environmentally friendly legislation. The aims of the newly developed simulation game are to educate residents and farmers in affected regions about the new FO and to develop new ideas on how to comply with the new regulations. The aims of the present study are, first, to research participants’ evaluation of the simulation game and, second, to assess the effect of the simulation game on subjective knowledge, internal efficacy, and attitude towards the new FO. This pre- and post-comparison design study was based on pre-test and post-test with participants in two games (N = 90). The results were analyzed using descriptive statistics, multiple regression analyses, qualitative content analysis, and mean value comparisons. The simulation game had a positive effect on participants’ subjective knowledge (Cohen’s d 0.65) and internal efficacy (Cohen’s d 0.36), but it did not have an effect on their attitudes toward the new FO, and it was shown to slightly lower their interest in agriculture politics (Cohen’s d −0.33). The participants reported that the game made them more aware of both the difficulty and necessity of finding compromises in the field of agriculture politics. Overall, the simulation was rated very positively and was perceived as interesting and informative by the participants.
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  • Journal Article

    High microphone signal-to-noise ratio enhances acoustic sampling of wildlife 

    Darras, Kevin F.A.; Deppe, Franziska; Fabian, Yvonne; Kartono, Agus P.; Angulo, Andres; Kolbrek, Bjørn; Mulyani, Yeni A.; Prawiradilaga, Dewi M.
    PeerJ 2020; 8 p.1-21: Art. e9955
    Background. Automated sound recorders are a popular sampling tool in ecology. However, the microphones themselves received little attention so far, and specifications that determine the recordings' sound quality are seldom mentioned. Here, we demonstrate the importance of microphone signal-to-noise ratio for sampling sonant animals. Methods. We tested 12 different microphone models in the field and measured their signal-to-noise ratios and detection ranges. We also measured the vocalisation activity of birds and bats that they recorded, the bird species richness, the bat call types richness, as well as the performance of automated detection of bird and bat calls. We tested the relationship of each one of these measures with signal-to-noise ratio in statistical models. Results. Microphone signal-to-noise ratio positively affects the sound detection space areas, which increased by a factor of 1.7 for audible sound, and 10 for ultrasound, from the lowest to the highest signal-to-noise ratio microphone. Consequently, the sampled vocalisation activity increased by a factor of 1.6 for birds, and 9.7 for bats. Correspondingly, the species pool of birds and bats could not be completely detected by the microphones with lower signal-to-noise ratio. The performance of automated detection of bird and bat calls, as measured by its precision and recall, increased significantly with microphone signal-to-noise ratio. Discussion. Microphone signal-to-noise ratio is a crucial characteristic of a sound recording system, positively affecting the acoustic sampling performance of birds and bats. It should be maximised by choosing appropriate microphones, and be quantified independently, especially in the ultrasound range.
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  • Journal Article

    A Global Survey on Diseases and Pests in Oilseed Rape—Current Challenges and Innovative Strategies of Control 

    Zheng, Xiaorong; Koopmann, Birger; Ulber, Bernd; von Tiedemann, Andreas
    Frontiers in Agronomy 2020; 2 p.1-15: Art. 590908
    The introduction of high-yielding and hybrid cultivars and the opening of new markets in the food and feed sector have steadily increased rapeseed production since the 1980s in the main production regions, Canada, Europe, China, India, and Australia. Since the 1990s, however, the average growth rate of yields has declined in Europe and Australia, which has been associated with a less effective control of biotic stresses. A global survey including the knowledge of 22 experts from 10 countries revealed a total of 16 diseases, 37 insect pests, several species of nematodes, and slugs currently affecting rapeseed production globally. A ranking of the top 10 most important biotic stresses in the four global regions where Brassica napus is grown (Canada, China, Europe, Australia) indicated an increase in several important stresses and distinct regional differences in the priority of prevailing diseases and pests. A stronger overlap exists among diseases, with Sclerotinia stem rot, Phoma stem canker, and clubroot occurring in all the four global regions on the top 10 list, while the range of prevailing insect pests was more diverse among the regions, with no top 10 insect playing an equally important role worldwide. Management options are substantially broader in disease than in pest control, making the latter the larger challenge. Since common integrated pest management (IPM) tools such as crop rotation, soil management, resistant cultivars or biocontrol are ineffective or not available, insect control largely relies on insecticides. Increasing restrictions on insecticide use, particularly in Europe, and losses in insecticide efficacy threaten the profitability of oilseed rape production and its role as an important break crop in cereal dominated cropping systems. Since the survival time of insects in the absence of their main host is relatively short (<1 year), a regional synchronization of cropping schemes resulting in one or more years without the crop could lead to a substantial disruption of regional insect populations. If rotation schemes were implemented on the landscape instead the farm level, by coordination among growers in zones covering the range distances of insect pests, an efficient and chemical low management strategy could be established and enable a more sustainable rapeseed production in the future.
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  • Journal Article

    BioSounds: an open-source, online platform for ecoacoustics 

    Darras, Kevin; Pérez, Noemí; -, Mauladi; Hanf-Dressler, Tara
    F1000Research 2020; 9 p.1-12: Art. 1224
    Passive acoustic monitoring of soundscapes and biodiversity produces vast amounts of audio recordings. However, the management of these raw data presents technical challenges and their analysis suffers from bottlenecks. A multitude of software solutions exist, but none can perform all the data processing needed by ecologists for analysing large acoustic data sets. The field of ecoacoustics needs a software tool that is free, evolving, and accessible. We take a step in that direction and present BioSounds: an open-source, online platform for ecoacoustics designed by ecologists and built by software engineers. Biosounds can be used for archiving and sharing recordings, manually creating and reviewing annotations of sonant animals in soundscapes, analysing audio in time and frequency, and storing reference recordings for different taxa. We present its features and structure, and compare it with similar software. We describe its operation mode and the workflow for typical use cases such as the analysis of bird and bat communities sampled in soundscape recordings. BioSounds is available from: https://github.com/nperezg/biosounds
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  • Journal Article

    Correction to: Unexpected high frequency of neurofibroma in the celiac ganglion of German cattle 

    Dammann, Insa; Wemheuer, Wiebke M.; Wrede, Arne; Wemheuer, Wilhelm E.; Campe, Amely; Petschenka, Jutta; Schulze-Sturm, Ulf; Hahmann, Uwe; Czerny, Claus P.; Münster, Pia; et al.
    Brenig, BertramKreienbrock, LotharHerden, ChristianeSchulz-Schaeffer, Walter J.
    Veterinary Research. 2020 Oct 15;51(1):130
    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via the original article.
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  • Journal Article

    Protection of Citrus Fruits from Postharvest Infection with Penicillium digitatum and Degradation of Patulin by Biocontrol Yeast Clavispora lusitaniae 146 

    Díaz, Mariana Andrea; Pereyra, Martina María; Santander, Fabricio Fabián Soliz; Perez, María Florencia; Córdoba, Josefina María; Alhussein, Mohammad; Karlovsky, Petr; Dib, Julián Rafael
    Microorganisms 2020; 8(10) p.1-12: Art. 1477
    Fungal rots are one of the main causes of large economic losses and deterioration in the quality and nutrient composition of fruits during the postharvest stage. The yeast Clavispora lusitaniae 146 has previously been shown to efficiently protect lemons from green mold caused by Penicillium digitatum. In this work, the effect of yeast concentration and exposure time on biocontrol efficiency was assessed; the protection of various citrus fruits against P. digitatum by C. lusitaniae 146 was evaluated; the ability of strain 146 to degrade mycotoxin patulin was tested; and the effect of the treatment on the sensory properties of fruits was determined. An efficient protection of lemons was achieved after minimum exposure to a relatively low yeast cell concentration. Apart from lemons, the yeast prevented green mold in grapefruits, mandarins, oranges, and tangerines, implying that it can be used as a broad-range biocontrol agent in citrus. The ability to degrade patulin indicated that strain 146 may be suitable for the control of further Penicillium species. Yeast treatment did not alter the sensory perception of the aroma of fruits. These results corroborate the potential of C. lusitaniae 146 for the control of postharvest diseases of citrus fruits and indicate its suitability for industrial-scale fruit processing.
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  • Journal Article

    Flesh ID: Nanopore Sequencing Combined with Offline BLAST Search for the Identification of Meat Source 

    Kissenkötter, Jonas; Böhlken-Fascher, Susanne; Abd El Wahed, Ahmed
    Foods 2020; 9(10) p.1-13: Art. 1392
    Detection of animal species in meat product is crucial to prevent adulterated and unnecessary contamination during processing, in addition to avoid allergy and religious consequences. Gold standard is the real-time PCR assays, which has a limited target capability. In this study, we have established a rapid sequencing protocol to identify animal species within hours. Sequencing was achieved by nanopore sequencing and data analysis via offline BLAST search. The whole procedure was conducted in a mobile suitcase lab. As per national and international regulations, the developed assay detected adulteration of pork meat with 0.1% of horse, chicken, turkey, cattle, sheep, duck, rabbit, goat, and donkey. The developed test could be used on-site as a rapid and mobile detection system to determine contamination of meat products
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  • Journal Article

    Meta-analyses of genome wide association studies in lines of laying hens divergently selected for feather pecking using imputed sequence level genotypes 

    Falker-Gieske, Clemens; Iffland, Hanna; Preuß, Siegfried; Bessei, Werner; Drögemüller, Cord; Bennewitz, Jörn; Tetens, Jens
    BMC Genetics. 2020 Oct 01;21(1):114
    Abstract Background Feather pecking (FP) is damaging behavior in laying hens leading to global economic losses in the layer industry and massive impairments of animal welfare. The objective of the study was to discover genetic variants and affected genes that lead to FP behavior. To achieve that we imputed low-density genotypes from two different populations of layers divergently selected for FP to sequence level by performing whole genome sequencing on founder and half-sib individuals. In order to decipher the genetic structure of FP, genome wide association studies and meta-analyses of two resource populations were carried out by focusing on the traits ‘feather pecks delivered’ (FPD) and the ‘posterior probability of a hen to belong to the extreme feather pecking subgroup’ (pEFP). Results In this meta-analysis, we discovered numerous genes that are affected by polymorphisms significantly associated with the trait FPD. Among them SPATS2L, ZEB2, KCHN8, and MRPL13 which have been previously connected to psychiatric disorders with the latter two being responsive to nicotine treatment. Gene set enrichment analysis revealed that phosphatidylinositol signaling is affected by genes identified in the GWAS and that the Golgi apparatus as well as brain structure may be involved in the development of a FP phenotype. Further, we were able to validate a previously discovered QTL for the trait pEFP on GGA1, which contains variants affecting NIPA1, KIAA1211L, AFF3, and TSGA10. Conclusions We provide evidence for the involvement of numerous genes in the propensity to exhibit FP behavior that could aid in the selection against this unwanted trait. Furthermore, we identified variants that are involved in phosphatidylinositol signaling, Golgi metabolism and cell structure and therefore propose changes in brain structure to be an influential factor in FP, as already described in human neuropsychiatric disorders.
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  • Journal Article

    Understanding German Pig Farmers’ Intentions to Design and Construct Pig Housing for the Improvement of Animal Welfare 

    Winkel, Carolin; von Meyer-Höfer, Marie; Heise, Heinke
    Animals 2020; 10(10) p.1-22: Art. 1760
    Improving farm animal welfare requires modifications to the behavior of many stakeholders. Investments in more animal-friendly barns to improve animal welfare have already been made by some farmers. However, more farmers must be persuaded to modernize their barns. The marketing of animal-friendly products is the responsibility of retailers, and consumers have to purchase these products. Currently, little is known about what (and how) underlying psychological factors influence a farmer’s intention to construct pig housing to improve farm animal welfare. Pig farmers in Germany were questioned via an online questionnaire in May 2020 (n = 424). Based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), partial least squares path modeling was used. The constructs: attitude, subjective norm, direct and indirect experience associated with the construction of pig housing substantially influenced the farmers’ behaviors. As expected, the impact of perceived behavioral control on intention was negative but was also very low and only slightly significant. Contrary to expectations, the perceived behavioral control had no significant influence on farmers’ behaviors. Pig farmers who have already rebuilt their pigs’ housing should be motivated to share their experiences to influence their colleagues’ intentions to construct. Our results will encourage policy makers to consider the important role of the different psychological and intrinsic factors influencing pig farmers. Thus, the sustainability of pig farming can be improved by giving politicians a better understanding of farmers´ behaviors.
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  • Journal Article

    Point-Of-Care or Point-Of-Need Diagnostic Tests: Time to Change Outbreak Investigation and Pathogen Detection 

    Hansen, Sören; Abd El Wahed, Ahmed
    Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease 2020; 5(4) p.1-15: Art. 151
    In the recent years, the progress of international trade and travel has led to an increased risk of emerging infections. Around 75 percent of the pathogens causing these infections are of animal origin. Point-of-care tests (POCT) and point-of-need tests (PONT) have been established in order to directly provide accurate and rapid diagnostics at field level, the patient bed-side or at the site of outbreaks. These assays can help physicians and decision makers to take the right action without delay. Typically, POCT and PONT rely on genomic identification of pathogens or track their immunological fingerprint. Recently, protocols for metagenomic diagnostics in the field have been developed. In this review, we give an overview of the latest developments in portable diagnostic methods. In addition, four mobile platforms for the implementation of these techniques at point-of-care and point-of-need are described. These approaches can provide reliable diagnostics and surveillance, especially in low resource settings as well as at the level of one health.
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  • Journal Article

    Pan-genomic open reading frames: A potential supplement of single nucleotide polymorphisms in estimation of heritability and genomic prediction 

    Li, Zhengcao; Simianer, Henner
    PLOS Genetics 2020; 16(8) p.1-19: Art. e1008995
    Pan-genomic open reading frames (ORFs) potentially carry protein-coding gene or coding variant information in a population. In this study, we suggest that pan-genomic ORFs are promising to be utilized in estimation of heritability and genomic prediction. A Saccharomyces cerevisiae dataset with whole-genome SNPs, pan-genomic ORFs, and the copy numbers of those ORFs is used to test the effectiveness of ORF data as a predictor in three prediction models for 35 traits. Our results show that the ORF-based heritability can capture more genetic effects than SNP-based heritability for all traits. Compared to SNP-based genomic prediction (GBLUP), pan-genomic ORF-based genomic prediction (OBLUP) is distinctly more accurate for all traits, and the predictive abilities on average are more than doubled across all traits. For four traits, the copy number of ORF-based prediction(CBLUP) is more accurate than OBLUP. When using different numbers of isolates in training sets in ORF-based prediction, the predictive abilities for all traits increased as more isolates are added in the training sets, suggesting that with very large training sets the prediction accuracy will be in the range of the square root of the heritability. We conclude that pan-genomic ORFs have the potential to be a supplement of single nucleotide polymorphisms in estimation of heritability and genomic prediction.
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