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                                                                   UPDATES

 

PhD student from Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, visits Iowa State University to learn techniques and computer software for genomic analyses

As part of his Borlaug LEAP Fellowship, James Mushi, a PhD student at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania under the Genomics to Improve Poultry Program, traveled to Iowa State University (ISU) in July 2017, to collaborate with ISU Genomics to Improve Poultry program partners on analyses for data generated through poultry trials conducted at SUA. James, whose research focuses on enhancing innate resistance to Newcastle disease virus in indigenous chickens in Tanzania, worked closely with partners at ISU to learn new techniques for data management and genomic analyses using R, Axiom suite Affymetrix, MobaXterm, and Plink programs. James also had the opportunity to network with other scientists working in Animal Science Department at ISU and learn about the use of HapFLK, a genomic software for determination of selection signatures in animals.

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                                                        Visit to Ghana  - June 2017

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry: Ghana site visit for Lab  Troubleshooting 

Perot Saelao from the Huaijun Zhou lab at UC Davis visited Dr. Boniface Kayang and the Ghana research team in order to help improve and troubleshoot the quantitation of the Newcastle disease virus through qPCR. On his arrival, Perot reviewed procedures done by the Ghana students and research team and was able to assist in the recovery of over 300 data points through reevaluation and troubleshooting. Despite the local holiday in Ghana, the team worked to establish working standards that were then validated on site and used to quantify the viral titer of 864 samples across two trials. Perot also helped in the design of a more optimized workflow to maximize the amount of data generated, in addition to limiting the extent small errors can have in disqualifying results. Perot also resupplied several critical reagents that were needed to continue sample processing. Under supervision, Ghana student Princess was consistently successful in her qPCR methods, and appears to be able to continue to generate data that will help to quantify the viral titers successfully.

                  Ghana Lab1                  Ghana Lab 2

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      The Feed the Future Innovation Lab Council West Africa Regional Partners Meeting

GIP Director Huaijun Zhou attended the Feed the Future Innovation Lab Council West Africa Regional Partners Meeting held February 6-8 2017 at the King Fahd Palace Hotel In Dakar Senegal. The objectives of the meeting were to draw together regional stakeholders, USAID country, regional and Washington staff and the Feed the Future Innovation Labs in order to:

1) Identify key agriculture and nutrition research priorities and needs for the region;

2) Examine human and institutional capacity needs and successful models;

3) Map current research and development programs against needs and priorities to identify synergies and gaps; and

4) Identify opportunities for collaboration within and between the Innovation Labs, Missions, and other research and development programs in the region.

The meeting assembled nearly 100 participants in a series of plenary presentations and discussions on the agricultural research and development programs in the region.  These presentations initiated discussion on the needs, challenges and opportunities for improving their performance.  Following the plenary presentations, four working groups assembled to refine further the needs, priorities, gaps and potential synergistic activities in a structured exercise. The working groups built upon the plenary presentations in each of the following four thematic areas and extended the discussion into strategies and potential partners: 1) Climate Resilience and Risk Management, 2) Crop Improvement Systems, 3) Food Safety and Nutrition and 4) Animals in Production Systems.  A key message of this workshop is that there are many shared elements across the thematic groups.  There is strong opinion that harvesting the genetic potential of plants and animals will be an important strategy to improve resistance against biotic and abiotic stresses that limit the productivity.  Genetic enhancement was seen as a tool to increase food availability and quality and hence one avenue to improve nutrition.  There is need for continued investment in the building of human and institutional capacity in these areas.

                                                  Dakar Sewnegal

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PhD Student from Tanzania Kicks off Borlaug LEAP Fellowship Program at the Plant and Animal Genomics Conference in San Diego - January 2017

James Mushi, a PhD student conducting research at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania under the Genomics to Improve Poultry Program, kicked off his Borlaug LEAP Fellowship Program1 at the prestigious Plant and Animal Genome Conference (PAG) in San Diego. PAG brings together over 3,000 leading scientists in plant and animal genetics research to discuss recent developments and plans for genomics projects.

James, whose research focuses on enhancing innate resistance to Newcastle disease in indigenous chickens in Tanzania, had the opportunity to network with animal geneticists to exchange ideas and applications related to genetic variability, selective breeding, and maintaining genetic resources for ensuring sustainable improvements to poultry production. In addition to providing James with new insight into approaches and next steps for his graduate research, the conference provided him broader perspective on the application of genomics to address increasing global demands for protein. He stressed how the conference was “an amazing lifetime experience” inspiring him to work toward “safeguarding our world against the challenges of global warming and food insecurity”. He hopes to share his contributions to improving food security in Africa through his research at a future PAG conference.

1The Norman E. Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program is supported through the US Government’s Feed the Future Borlaug 21st Century Leadership Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development. Borlaug LEAP is managed by the International Programs Office, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis.

                                           PAG conference

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                                            GIP Fourth Annual Team Research Meeting

The research team members for the “Genomics to Improve Poultry” project traveled to and held their 4th Annual Meeting in Accra, Ghana at the University of Ghana, the last week of September 2016.

For the annual meeting, the research teams discussed research progress and challenges; data organization, analysis, and management; graduate student and post-doc training; manuscripts that will stem from this research; plans for the upcoming year; and long-term goals of the program. The team also had the opportunity to meet with Samson Konlan from the Ghana USAID Mission to brief him on the project. Mr. Konlan also participated in the afternoon sessions on the first day of the annual meeting.  Huaijun Zhou and Terra Kelly also met with the University of Ghana team and visited the laboratories and natural exposure trial facilities to plan upcoming research.

                                          Fourth Annual Mtg

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                                                                      The XXV World Poultry Congress

Dr. Huaijun Zhou was invited to give a talk on improving food security in Africa by enhancing resistance to Newcastle disease and heat stress in chickens, at The XXV World Poultry Congress in Beijing on September 7, 2016. This is one of the largest conferences in poultry science with more than 4000 delegates from 72 countries. The themes included Nutrition and Feeds, Genetics and Breeding, Health and Disease, Welfare and Behavior, Housing Systems and Environment Management, Waste Management, Egg Quality and Safety, Extension and Education, Meat Quality and Processing, Economics and Marketing, Biotechnology and Reproduction, Incubation and Hatchery Management, Small-Scale Family Poultry Production, Quail and Turkey, Waterfowls.

    HuaijunBeijingpoultry            HuaijunBeijing1

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Click the link below to read our article featured in the Feed the Future Newsletter "Feed the Future Innovation Lab Hatches Plan to Breed Heartier Chickens"

https://www.feedthefuture.gov/article/feed-future-innovation-lab-hatches-plan-breed-heartier-chickens

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White House Summit on Global Development

On July 20, 2016, As a Program Director of Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry, Dr. Huaijun Zhou was invited to join President Obama,  Secretary of USDA Tom Vilsack, Administrator of USAID Gayle Smith,  Ambassador Susan Rice,  Samantha Power and entrepreneurs, diplomats, civil society members, public and private sector financing partners, and development leaders at the White House Summit on Global Development to mark global progress and find ways to catalyze further development efforts that will improve real lives and deliver real outcomes in six key areas: energy, food security, global health, governance, partnership, and youth. See detail from the following website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/campaign/globaldevelopment

WH1   POTUS

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        Huaijun Zhou speaks at The Global Food Security Summit: Sustainable Solutions

GIP Program Director Dr. Huaijun Zhou was invited to speak and serve as a panelist to discuss challenges we face on global hunger and malnutrition on The Global Food Security Summit: Sustainable Solutions at UC Irvine on May 5-6, 2016.  The summit assembled global leaders, practitioners, and academics to think critically about the new frameworks designed to address this challenge at the intersection of food security, development, health and climate action, to collaborate on the work being done, and to identify priorities that the academic world can and must address. The Summit includes topics in Food System Policy, Perspectives on Global Food Security, Global to Local: Challenges and Opportunities for Collective Action, Research and Outreach to Improve Food and Agriculture, The Promise and Challenge of Effective Technological Transfer, Research Innovation Fellowships in Agriculture, Overview and Priorities of the UC Global Food Initiative, Research & Education Priorities & Partnerships and remarks by UC President Janet Napolitano.

FoodSummit

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Click Here to read UC Davis's blog about the contributions of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry Project to One Health        https://www.ucdavis.edu/one-health/breeding-disease-resistant-chickens

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March 2016

Kelly Wilson Shares Research at UFWH Summit

Over the last decade there have been steep declines in global hunger rates, but there are still 793 million undernourished people in the world today (FAO).  In the US alone, 50% of people will at some point use food assistance to provide for themselves and their families.  This past weekend, students, professors and professionals came together at Missouri State University for the 11th summit of Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) to discuss current obstacles to the war on hunger and collaborate on solutions for the future.

Graduate student Kelly Wilson was invited to the UFWH summit to share her research, which focuses on the project’s 6th objective: to design and implement a breeding and distribution program for an improved chicken, as part of the “Applied Research and Multidisciplinary” panel.  Along with seven other masters and PhD students from around the country, the session centered around the importance of bridging the gap between scientific innovation and the target beneficiary. 

As a social scientist working for this research program, Wilson’s responsibilities lie not the lab where researchers are using genomic approaches to enhance Newcastle Disease and heat resistance in chickens, but in the next steps.  Once a scientific innovation exists, how can it become accessible to the people it could truly help?  What key elements are needed in a project to ensure that the innovation has been developed to meet the felt-needs of these beneficiaries?  If an improved chicken could prevent divesting losses for the rural poor, how can it then make it accessible and sustain the desired traits in village flocks?  

Her presentation inspired spirited discussion with a wide range of skill-sets, who brain-stormed mechanisms for connecting technology to targeted beneficiaries.  Multi-disciplinary teams were deemed an essential component to food security work as these divergent perspectives provides perspective on externalities that might otherwise be ignored, and can even lead to negative results for the beneficiaries.  These ideas and conversations continued throughout the UFWH summit, further fueling the inspiration to go back into our communities and keep up momentum towards establishing a food secure world. 

Kwilsonsummit

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February 2016

Research Collaboration Visit to Iowa State University

Perot Saelao

PhD Candidate from UC Davis

In order to further enhance collaborative efforts between Iowa State University and the University of California, Davis. A graduate student Perot Saelao from UC Davis was sent to ISU in order to learn, collaborate, and standardize the analysis programs and software needed to begin working with the genotyping data obtained from the Hy-Line trial. Upon arrival at ISU in late February, collaborators Dr. Sue Lamont and Dr. Jack Dekkers, along with fellow graduate student Kaylee Rowland, held a meeting in order to discuss the expectations and goals of the visit. Kaylee and Perot then proceeded to conduct a thorough quality control processing of the raw data obtained from the 600K SNP panel using specialized software. Several days were invested in formatting and processing the data in order to obtain the optimal parameters and settings that would help to standardize the research methods being used. In addition, collaborative work between Melissa Herrmann and Perot also occurred in order to optimize analysis methods used on the RNA-Seq data obtained from the trial using the two inbred chicken lines. After effective data processing for the two research projects, Perot was also invited to provide a brief update on the work utilizing the Hy-Line Brown birds at the Hy-Line International headquarters. Finally, at the conclusion of the visit a detailed report and summary was presented to Dr. Lamont and Dr. Dekkers and further discussion on how to proceed with additional analysis and parameter settings to test once Perot returned back to UC Davis. Overall the trip was a great benefit to the research efforts occurring at UC Davis and significantly improved the collaboration between the two universities under the GIP program.

Perot ISU

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September 2015

The research team members for the “Genomics to Improve Poultry” project traveled to and held their 3rd Annual Meeting in Morogoro, Tanzania the second week of September 2015.

For the first two days of the annual meeting, the research teams from the U.S., Tanzania, and Ghana discussed research progress and challenges; data organization, analysis, and management; graduate student and post-doc training; manuscripts that will stem from this research; and plans for the upcoming year. On the third day, a special session was conducted to solicit expertise from outside experts on poultry breeding and distribution from Tanzania, Ghana, Cameroon, and Kenya. The goal of the session was to better understand the different approaches used to distribute chickens to smallholder farmers in Africa and to inform on a framework for an assessment of models for breeding and distribution of improved chicken breeds for the program.

Dr. Peter Msoffe from Sokoine University of Agriculture facilitated the special session. He introduced the program’s goal of using innovative genomic approaches to address the problem of disease caused by Newcastle Disease virus (NDV) in African chickens. He stressed the importance of determining the best system to effectively place the improved breeds into the hands of the farmers and to sustainably support the process of genetic improvement. He closed by leading the charge for the day, which was to collectively identify potential models for breeding and distribution of improved chicken breeds for the program and to develop a framework for our upcoming assessment of the best approach for sustainable integration of the improved breeds into production for small-holder farmers in Africa.

Participants were then divided into small working groups. Each working group was tasked with brainstorming on the various types of poultry breeding and distribution models that could be utilized for this program. For each model, the group outlined the value chain and the pros and cons of each model. The models were then presented to the larger group followed by further discussion on the benefits and challenges of the particular models.

The session provided valuable perspective on the diversity of poultry breeding and distribution models in Africa, the pros and cons of the different models, and strategies for assessing the different models utilized in Africa to inform on the ideal model for distributing improved breeds for this program. In addition, the session facilitated important collaborations with experts, which will serve as a platform for this assessment.

Africa1               Africa2

Success Story from Annual Meeting

Poultry experts identify key criteria for effective breeding and distribution of improved chicken breeds for smallholder farmers in Africa

Eighty percent of poultry producers across the African continent are smallholder family producers who raise small flocks of chickens in order to eat, sell, or gift their eggs and meat.  Although chicken husbandry is popular, offering a venture that is inexpensive, low-labor, and environmentally nonintrusive, farmers face major losses due to disease.  Newcastle Disease especially has made devastating hits on smallholder farmer flocks across the continent.  The USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry (GIP) is in its second year of a five-year program working to address this issue by applying advanced genetics and genomics approaches to sustainably enhance innate resistance to Newcastle Disease, as well as heat stress in chickens. 

 This research program relies on the cutting-edge science to develop an improved genetic strain of indigenous breeds of chickens. But as important as this innovation could be for the scientific world, it is equally important that the end-product is relevant for the industry or the final user.  A bird that is resistant to Newcastle Disease and adapted against heat stress will indeed be attractive for these entities, but will also need to encompass other qualities that are relevant to the industry and end users’ culture and environment. Additionally, there will need to be an efficient method to distribute these improved chickens to smallholder family poultry producers in Africa.  

On September 11, 2015 the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry facilitated a working group meeting at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania to enhance our understanding of how best to ground this scientific innovation into the real world.  This meeting brought together experts from across the poultry value chain, from researchers to breeders to distributors. 

 Among the group were invited guest speakers Ms. Patricia Aboe of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ghana; Dr. Jean-Claude Fotsa, Editor-in-chief of Family Poultry Communications and Research Professor of the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD), Cameroon; and Dr. Humphrey Mbugua of the Kenya Poultry Breeders Association, Kenya.  Each speaker presented on poultry breeding and distribution projects that they have worked with in their respective countries, all emphasizing the importance of providing a product that is relevant to small family poultry producers. “The major problem,” Dr. Fotsa explained, “is that (new) genetic materials do not take into consideration farmers preferences for taste, flavor, skin color, size, etc.”. If the improved chicken does not meet key criteria demanded by local farmers, it will not be a useful, or desirable, product. 

 Also in attendance were local Tanzania poultry breeders and distributors. Mr. Manase Mrindwa is the owner of Msigani Poultry near Dar es Salam, Tanzania where he and his wife run a hatchery that produces and sells up to 7,000 day-old chicks each week. His participation was especially relevant when the discussion turned to business models of breeding and distributing chickens to smallholder family poultry producers. The Msigani model, along with six other models were analyzed and documented. 

 This collaborative knowledge will be essential to develop a chicken breeding and distribution plan that will put Newcastle Disease and heat resistance chickens into the hands, or flocks, of smallholder family poultry producers in African countries.  During the next year, the workshop participants will continue to advise the GIP team on identifying the key criteria to making an improved breed a desirable and accessible product.  

                                    Group9_15

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 Graduate Student from University California, Davis provided training at Ghana and Tanzania

Perot Saelao departed from the University of California, Davis on July 10th 2015 to assist in the research being conducted at the University of Ghana and Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania. In total, he spent a week at each University working with faculty, staff, and graduate student researchers to further hone their molecular laboratory abilities and familiarize the individuals with the shared methods needed. The molecular methods being demonstrated included RNA isolation, quantitative RT-PCR, equipment calibration, and refreshment on general laboratory techniques. The majority of the training centered on refining and reemphasizing protocols and methods that had already been demonstrated by previous graduate students from ISU. These methods had also undergone some minor modifications to help improve processivity thus needing additional time spent for training. In addition laboratory assistance, Perot also assisted in assessing and optimizing the animal trials being conducted at the two research stations. Perot was able to once again refine and demonstrate proper procedures and guidance for handling the birds and sample collection. At this time point within the project, it was crucial to provide the two Universities the necessary support and guidance needed to independently carry out a complete and thorough animal trial in order to begin understanding the native chicken breeds within Africa and their genetic predisposition to the Newcastle disease virus. With the assistance provided by the researcher from UC Davis, the collaborators from UOG and SUA were able to discuss, deliberate, and share valuable insights with one another to further help enrich the educational and intellectual opportunities such interpersonal collaborations facilitate.

Perot_labperot_lab1

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May 2015

Students from Iowa State University Visit Ghana and Tanzania

Melissa Herrmann and Kaylee Rowland from Iowa State University spent two weeks at the University of Ghana and Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania.  At each university, graduate students and research personnel were trained in essential laboratory techniques (ELISA, viral RNA isolation, and qPCR). The training focused on scaling up processes to high throughput to handle the large number of samples that will be collected in the next phase of the project.  The Iowa State scientists also delivered an enhanced conceptual framework of the theory underlying the lab techniques and the importance of the results to this project.   The project goals are to identify genetics underlying Newcastle Disease Virus resistance and to use the information to breed more robust chickens in Ghana and Tanzania where NDV is endemic.  The training received helped empower the UOG and SUA groups with the knowledge, experience and confidence needed to process samples and obtain data needed to achieve the project goal.

kayleeandmelissa

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October 2014 Training in Tanzania and Ghana

Professor Rodrigo Gallardo Conducts Training

 at Sokoine University of Agriculture

In October 2014, Dr. Rodrigo Gallardo led a training for the Tanzania research team at Sokoine University of Agriculture covering poultry handling, sample collection, and laboratory procedures. The Tanzania research team honed their poultry handling and sample collection skills, and mastered the tear collection procedure for RNA samples. The research team also practiced laboratory techniques including RNA isolation, quantitative RT-PCR, and ELISA.

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Dr. Rodrigo Gallardo demonstrates poultry handling and collection of tears for RNA samples during training at Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania.

 

 

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry Meets

and Trains at the University of Ghana

A 4-day training has been conducted in University of Ghana. The blood, tear collection and ELISA assay in measuring NDV antibody response in serum and NDV virus isolation from tears and q-PCR measuring virus titers in tears procedures were conducted under the supervision of Dr. Rodrigo Gallardo, and Huaijun Zhou. More than a dozen of graduate students, research staff, and faculty have participated. They used blood and tears they collected to isolate serum and measure antibody response using ELISA and isolated NDV virus and then measured virus titers using q-PCR. During the training, both theoretical and practical questions have been discussed and addressed.  Through this training, our African colleagues have prepared themselves for coming pilot study and animal experiments and laboratories techniques needed.

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The US and Ghana research teams meet at the University of Ghana in October 2014.

 

 

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Dr. Huaijun Zhou demonstrates procedures for RT-PCR for the University of Ghana research team.

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Meeting in Ames, Iowa

Researchers from UC-Davis and Iowa State University recently met in Ames, Iowa, to share and discuss their research progress and to refine research protocols. They also networked with experts in protecting animal and human health against viruses at the International Symposium on Vaccines Against Antigenically Variable Viruses.

UCD and Iowa State meeting attendees

Research Team Launches the Innovation Lab at Tanzania & Ghana Meetings

The Research Team and Advisory Committee launched the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry in January 2014 at meetings at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania. Team members from UC Davis (UCD), Iowa State University (ISU), the University of Ghana (UOG) and SUA reviewed and finalized research plans. The Research Advisory Committee joined the research team to evaluate the research plans and discuss technical issues and program implementation protocols.

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Research Team meeting at Sokoine University of Agriculture, from left to right, first row: Rodrigo Gallardo, Boniface Kayang, Sue Lamont, Philip Nyaga, Lindsay Parish (USAID), SUA Vice Chancellor; second row: Jack Dekkers, Sheila Ommeh (Kenyatta University collaborator), Huaijun Zhou, George Aning, Peter Msoffe, Jim Hill, David Bunn; third row: Augustine Naazie, Amandus Muhairwa.

Following the research program meetings, Team Members from UCD and the ISU met with SUA and UOG partners to develop training plans and review facility preparations of research poultry facilities.

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Research Team meeting at the University of Ghana. Standing, from left to right: Thomas K. Tinga, Mustapha A. Ahmed, Jonathan Quaye, Kwame George Aning, Princess Botchway, Kelly Afrifah, Diana Fiadzomor, Augustine Naazie, David Bunn, Sue Lamont, Christopher Tudeka, Huaijun Zhou. Kneeling, from left right: Rodrigo Gallardo, Boniface Kayang

 

 

   
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