Title: Understanding Host-Microbiome interactions for improved immune competence in beef cattle 

Speaker: Dr Pâmela Alexandre 

Abstract:  A key aspect of developing sustainable livestock production systems is selecting for improved productivity while considering welfare outcomes. Critical to animal health and welfare is immune competence, which can be described as an animal’s ability to mount both a cell-mediated and an antibody-mediated immune response. These two phenotypes were shown to influence mortality during feedlot finishing, and health-associated costs incurred by feedlot operators. Recently, they have been combined into a single index, namely ImmuneDEX (IDEX). IDEX has the potential to assist the selection of animals that are both highly productive and with an enhanced ability to resist diseases. Despite its relevance, there is limited information available regarding the genomic architecture behind immune competence and the role of microbiomes in the modulation of this trait. While the beneficial impacts of microbiomes on livestock health and performance are becoming increasingly apparent, major knowledge gaps remain around how microbiomes influence the expression of specific traits, and critically, how their function can be exploited to deliver beneficial outcomes, either through selective breeding for superior host genetics or by incorporating targeted management practices. Here, we describe the advances in our research around immune competence in beef cattle and our current strategy to explore this trait from a holobiont perspective. 

Biography:  Pâmela Alexandre is a research scientist at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, based in Brisbane. She holds a Master and a PhD degrees in Animal Science from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. During her Master, she used gene co-expression networks to propose a biological model for feed efficiency regulation in the liver of indicine cattle. This study was then expanded during her PhD to a more holistic investigation using multi-tissue transcriptomics to identify regulatory coding and non-coding genes. In 2019 she joined CSIRO as a postdoctoral fellow when she had the chance to apply systems biology methods to a range of datasets and species to explore complex phenotypes. Currently, she is part of a project which aims at developing a new understanding of microbiome connectivity across the environment-to-human continuum. As part of the animal production activity area, her aim is to address major knowledge gaps around the relationship between host genetics, host health (immune competence) and microbiome profile (including eye, nose, saliva and faeces) leading to innovative insights and solutions to influence diversity and composition of beneficial microbial communities. 

About School research seminars

Seminars cover all aspects of chemistry and molecular biosciences and are delivered by visiting national and international academics. PhD completion seminars are also incorporated into the program.

Seminars are usually held in person and via zoom. All are welcome to attend.  



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