RIT scientists pinpoint a potential genetic variant that protects cattle from wasting disease
Rochester Institute of Technology researchers are studying the genetic switch that could make cattle resistant to the wasting disease known as “sleeping sickness.”
Bolaji Thomas, professor of biomedical sciences in RIT’s College of Health Sciences and Technology, is examining different immune responses to bovine trypanosomiasis within the same species of cattle in Nigeria. The common fly-borne disease causes anemia and death in cattle, and leads to economic hardship for farmers dependent on healthy herds.
Thomas and post-doctoral fellow Olanrewaju “Lanre” Morenikeji are studying the genetic mechanism that protects the N’Dama breed—but not the White Fulani—from trypanosomiasis. The researchers hypothesized that a specific gene (CD14) in both breeds evolved differently in response to the pathogen. Now, Thomas and Morenikeji have demonstrated that natural variants of this gene protect the N’Dama breed, leading to a robust innate immune response.
Morenikeji presented part of the research at the American Association of Immunologists Annual Conference, May 9-13, in San Diego, Calif. A travel grant awarded to Thomas enabled both scientists to share their research with colleagues in their field.
“Why does one breed of animal resist infection and another breed succumb to it, despite being the same species?” Thomas said. “If we find those differences, can we tweak that genetic difference to breed cattle that resist disease? That is our eventual goal.”
Thomas won a Careers in Immunology Fellowship from the American Association of Immunologists to support Morenikeji, an animal scientist at Federal University of Technology in Akure, Nigeria.
“Cattle that have increased resistance to infection will boost the economy of sub-Saharan Africa, with application for global cattle genomics,” Morenikeji said.
RIT undergraduate researchers like Katlyn Delaney, a fourth-year biomedical sciences major, from Marion, N.Y., also contributed to the study, gaining experience extracting DNA and setting up the polymerase chain reaction used to generate copies of the DNA template.
The complete study is under review by Scientific Reports, an open-access journal from Nature Research.
June 20, 2019
Artificial intelligence and Google Street View could hold the key to stopping invasive plants
The New York State Department of Environmental Conversation will award two RIT faculty a grant to map roadside infestations of five key invasive plant species in the Finger Lakes and Adirondack Park over the next two years. Assistant Professor Christopher Kanan and Associate Professor Christy Tyler will develop algorithms that analyze high-resolution images from Google Street View and other sources to help environmental officials identify where the species have spread and prioritize where to intervene.
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Did a Dwarf Galaxy Crash into the Milky Way?
Sky & Telescope reports that a recent study by RIT suggests the dwarf galaxy Antlia 2 had a long-ago run-in with our galaxy, rippling and warping its disk. But not everyone agrees with that scenario.
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Students combine hardware and attacking skills at cybersecurity competition
A team of RIT students from different computing disciplines came together last semester to place third in the 2019 MITRE Collegiate eCTF (embedded capture-the-flag) cybersecurity competition.
June 18, 2019
A 'Ghost Galaxy' May Have Given the Milky Way Its Signature Swirl
Though direct observational evidence of Antlia 2 was not obtained until last year, one scientist has had a decade-long hunch that it was there. Sukanya Chakrabarti, an astrophysicist at RIT predicted in 2009 that an object packed with dark matter was causing tidal effects at the edge of the Milky Way.