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Current Experiments

Enhancing High School Students Career Awareness and Development through an Experiential Learning Summer Program

Purpose: The purpose of this proposal is to provide a secondary school student population the opportunity to improve their laboratory skills and knowledge to maximize their post-secondary education. Further, because ENMU has a current USDA-NIFA-HSI grant that promotes undergraduate research, this proposal will act as a pipeline in identifying the most promising scientists for undergraduate research. The objectives of this proposal are to: 1) educate 20 secondary school students with hands-on training using the latest methodologies for agricultural, animal science, feed and nutrition, and reproductive physiology research by teaching a laboratory-oriented science program; and 2) ease the transition from secondary to post-secondary school by exposing the students to two weeks on campus living with room and board.

Audience: The majority of this grant (85% of the funding) is to provide hands-on laboratory technique training opportunities to twenty secondary school students per year. The real beneficiaries of this program are potential undergraduate agricultural students.

Products: Our expected products are: highly-competitive secondary school students for undergraduate research projects who have mastered both the scientific knowledge and laboratory skills to excel in their post-secondary education. Further, to impart a desire to pursue advanced post-baccalaureate degrees in the agriculture sciences. As a result, these students will enter their future career at a higher earning capacity because of the knowledge and skills they learned going through this program.

Outcome/Impact: The major product/outcomes from the proposed project are the training of highly knowledgeable, technically skilled students who will have the training necessary to excel in their post-secondary education and into an advanced degree program. The beneficial aspect of this proposal is the emphasis on hands-on education and career development to better train a secondary school student populous upon their enrollment at ENMU or other Institutions. The proposed project will increase the number of students obtaining advanced degrees and assuming leadership roles in the agriculture and food sciences. An additional output/result arising from this project is increased research and educational collaboration between a Hispanic Serving Institution (ENMU), and Federal Government (USDA-ARS) entities.

Gene Expression and Proliferation Rates of Corpus Luteal Cells

Previous research shows cows treated with insulin have increased progesterone concentrations. Further, insulin has been found to decrease the catabolism of progesterone, thereby increasing circulating progesterone concentrations. Insulin has been found to increase progesterone synthesis in the ovine luteal cell. Research also shows the importance of insulin in steriodogenesis. We hypothesize that insulin may have a two-pronged approach in increasing circulating progesterone concentrations, through decreased catabolism and increased synthesis. This research will further investigate insulin's effects on the luteal cell's progesterone synthesis by examining gene expression of small and large luteal cells and proliferation rates of small luteal cells cultured with insulin.

The objectives of these experiments are to determine, 1) insulin's effect on progesterone synthesis from small and large luteal cells cultured separately, or on small and large luteal cells cultured together, 2) quantify small luteal cell proliferation rate when treated with insulin, and 3) the effect of various concentrations of insulin on steriodogenic gene expression in cultured small and large luteal cells.

Funding Source: ENMU Internal Research Grant

Enhancing Career Awareness and Develop Through Experiential Learning

Purpose: The purpose of this proposal is to provide an underrepresented student population (who are primarily first-generation college students) with the opportunity to improve their competitiveness when applying for graduate school or the industry.

The objectives of this proposal are to:

  • Provide research assistantship experiences to agricultural science students by hiring 10 undergraduate and one graduate student per year who are currently enrolled at Eastern New Mexico University
  • Educate undergraduate students with "hands-on" training using the latest methodologies for agricultural, animal science, feed and nutrition, and reproductive physiology research by teaching two laboratory-oriented science courses
  • Involve the employed student research aides in their selected professional science arena by giving them an opportunity to present their own research at regional or national scientific meetings

Audience: The majority of this grant (76% of the funding) is to provide "hands-on" research opportunities to up to 20 underrepresented, undergraduate students and one graduate student. The real beneficiaries of this program are underrepresented, undergraduate agricultural students.

Products: Products of this program include: highly-competitive for graduate school applicants, or highly-employable undergraduate students who have mastered both the scientific knowledge and laboratory skills to gain a career in the agricultural industry. Further, these students will enter their future career at a higher earning capacity because of the knowledge and skills they learn as a result of this program.

Outcome/Impact: The major product/outcomes from this project are the graduation of highly knowledgeable and technically skilled students. The beneficial aspect of this program is the emphasis on "hands-on" education and career development to better train the primarily Hispanic, underserved Eastern New Mexico student populous. The project will increase the number of underrepresented students obtaining advanced degrees and assuming leadership roles in the agriculture and food sciences. An additional output/result arising from this project is increased research and educational collaboration between a Hispanic Serving Institution (ENMU), and Federal Government (USDA-ARS) entities.

Funding Source: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI).

Effect of Post-Calving Prostaglandin F2α Injection during the Voluntary Waiting Period, and its Effect on Reproductive Performance

Since the early 1960s, numerous researchers have shown Prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) to be the luteolytic hormone that causes regression of the corpus luteum. Secretion of progesterone by the corpus luteum is necessary for the maintenance of pregnancy. It has also been well documented in the literature on the ability of PGF2α to contract smooth muscle.

In a post-partum cow, the uterus must reduce in size from carrying a large calf back to its normal size; this process is called uterine involution. Thus, the hypothesis has been that if PGF2α contracts smooth muscle then a pre-synchronization injection of prostaglandin will assist in uterine involution.

The objective of this experiment is to observe the effects of a post-calving PGF2α injection on reproductive performance. Approximately 1,000 cows will be randomly placed into one of two groups: Group 1 is the control and Group 2 will receive a pre-synchronization PGF2α treatment administered at 30-36 days in milk.

Data will be collected and analyzed for reproductive performance including days open, services per conception, percent pregnant, conception rate, and days to first service. The importance of this experiment is to potentially reduce the operating costs to a dairy producer who employs this practice given the alternate hypothesis that a pre-synchronization PGF2α treatment is not a stimulator of uterine involution.

Funding Source: ENMU Internal Research Grant

Effect of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) on the Clearance of Progesterone by the Hepatocyte

Circulating concentrations of progesterone are at least a critical indicator of possible embryo loss, or maybe more importantly, contribute directly to pregnancy retention. In our previous research, we have shown that insulin reduces the clearance of progesterone. Further, the reduction in progesterone clearance was due to an insulin-mediated reduction in the enzyme that catabolizes progesterone.

Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) is produced by the hepatocytes in the liver and is under the control of the hormone Somatotropin, released by the anterior pituitary in the brain. Numerous researchers have shown that IGF-1 will bind to insulin receptors and initiate the insulin signal pathway. It has also been shown that IGF-1 has a regulatory effect on other Cytochrome P450 enzymes that are associated with concentrations of progesterone.

Given our previous research with insulin and the similarities in both the structure and function of insulin and IGF-1, this is a logical continuation of our research. The objectives of these experiments are to determine the rate of progesterone clearance by hepatocytes following a challenge with IGF-1. Further, given the affinity of IGF-1 for insulin receptors, a dose treatment and subsequent dose-response will be investigated to determine if physiological concentrations of IGF-1 reduce progesterone clearance.

Funding Source: ENMU Internal Research Grant

Concentration of Progesterone from Day 1-45, Post Breeding with Different Insulin or Glucagon Promoting Diets in Lactating Dairy Cattle

This experiment is a continuation of collaborated research with West Virginia University and The Pennsylvania State University. Our previous results are presented in the recently accepted publication, "Diet-induced alterations in progesterone clearance appear to be mediated by insulin signaling in hepatocytes" (Smith et. al., 2006; Journal of Animal Science).

Previous researchers have shown that the circulating concentration of progesterone is an indicator of embryo survivability. Such that, cows that are in the lower quartile of concentration of progesterone have an increased embryonic loss. In the current experiment, we will examine the effects of insulin and glucagon on progesterone clearance.

This experiment is designed to apply our basic research results that show less progesterone is cleared by the hepatocyte with increasing concentrations of insulin. Pregnant dairy cows, fed an insulin stimulating diet or control, will be bled once daily via the coccygeal vein and the serum analyzed for insulin, glucagon and progesterone concentration. This research is designed to further demonstrate that dietary inputs may influence progesterone clearance and increase embryonic survival.

Funding Source: ENMU Internal Research Grant

Effect of Amino Acid Supply and Growth Hormone on Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 Production and Gene Expression in Cultured Mouse Hepatocytes

Circulating concentrations of progesterone are at least a critical indicator of potential embryonic loss, or maybe more importantly, contribute directly to pregnancy retention. In our previous research, we have shown that insulin reduces the clearance of progesterone; thus, potentially reducing embryonic loss.

Further, the reduction in progesterone clearance was due to an insulin-mediated reduction in the enzyme that catabolizes progesterone. We have also investigated Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1), produced by the hepatocytes in the liver. In the IGF-1 experiment we investigated whether IGF-1 had a regulatory effect on the cytochrome P450 enzymes that are associated with regulating concentrations of progesterone.

We know Somatotropin (GH) is released by the anterior pituitary in the brain and controls the release of IGF-1 by the hepatocyte. Further, it has been shown that the amino acid supply can act synergistically with GH to control IGF-1 production and gene expression. Therefore, this experiment is a logical continuation of our work.

The objectives of these experiments are to determine the effect of GH and different amino acid substrates on the concentrations of IGF-1 and the rate of progesterone clearance by hepatocytes; following a challenge with GH and different amino acid medium concentrations.

Funding Source: ENMU Internal Research Grant

Effect of Somatotropin (GH) on the Concentrations of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) and the Clearance of Progesterone by the Hepatocyte

Circulating concentrations of progesterone are at least, a critical indicator of possible embryo loss, or maybe more importantly, contribute directly to pregnancy retention. In our previous research, we have shown that insulin reduces the clearance of progesterone.

Further, the reduction in progesterone clearance was due to an insulin-mediated reduction in the enzyme that catabolizes progesterone. We have also investigated Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1), produced by the hepatocytes in the liver. In the IGF-1 experiment we investigated whether IGF-1 had a regulatory effect on the cytochrome P450 enzymes that are associated with regulating concentrations of progesterone. Since we know Somatotropin (GH) is released by the anterior pituitary in the brain and controls the release of IGF-1, this experiment is a logical continuation of our work.

The objectives of these experiments are to determine the effect of GH on the concentrations of IGF-1 and the rate of progesterone clearance by hepatocytes following a challenge with GH and the subsequent increase in IGF-1.

Funding Source: ENMU Internal Research Grant 

Survey of New Mexico Dairy Producers–Assessment of Past and Future Management Concerns

The New Mexico dairy industry generates over 743 million dollars in cash receipts and directly employs approximately 4,000 workers. In addition, the dairy industry and associated businesses including milk and cheese plants play a significant role in the state's economy.

In 1990, New Mexico ranked 30th in total milk production in the United States. In just 14 years, New Mexico is now ranked 7th in the nation. Over the last 10 years milk cow numbers have doubled from 165 thousand head in 1994 to 326 thousand head in 2004. Such rapid growth is often accompanied by management issues including those associated with reproduction, nutrition, and dairy herd management.

The goal of this study is to quantify past, current and future management issues. Questionnaires will be mailed to New Mexico and West Texas dairy producers (n=210) followed by a postcard reminder and/or phone contact. Included in the questionnaire are questions designed to address past management issues as well as current and future management concerns related to the New Mexico dairy industry. Analyzed together, this information will assist agricultural researchers in the identification and development of future research projects designed to increase the efficiency and sustainability of the regional dairy industry.

Funding Source: ENMU Internal Research Grant

Effects of Diatomaceous Earth on Musca domestica L.

The primary pests of confined dairy cattle are Musca domestica L., the house fly and Stomoxys calcitrans L., the stable fly. Flies are notorious for transmitting infectious diseases such as salmonella and tuberculosis.

Dairy cattle produce large amounts of manure in a localized area, creating an ideal environment for flies to reproduce. This experiment evaluated different methods of applying Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to manure and the subsequent effects on the life cycle of Musca domestica L.

Lactating, holstein dairy cattle (n=15) were assigned randomly to one of five treatment groups, fed 45, 90, 135, and 180g of DE. Further, beef steers (n=5) were either used as control (n=2) or gavaged with 45g of DE in 700ml of water once daily for 4 d (n=3).

Manure samples were collected by hand from the rectum of each animal and 25g sub-samples were placed into 0.24L glass jars. To further evaluate the potential effects, DE was mixed into control samples at 0.5 (P0.5), 1 (P1), 2 (P2), and 10 percent (P10) concentrations.

Finally, DE was spread on the top of control samples at 1 percent (S1) concentration to force the larvae to crawl through to reach their food source. Musca domestica L. larvae (n=5) were added to all samples and monitored for 15 d. Over the 15 d there did not appear to be any detrimental effects on the flies in any treatment. In all treatment groups the Musca domestica L. larvae morphed into flies and reproduced at exponential rates.

Funding Source: Industry