Jenschke: Dairy animal handling certificate

Lonnie Jenschke
Special to the Empire-Tribune

There will be a dairy stockmanship training May 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Southwest Regional Dairy Center, 2929 U.S. 281, Stephenville. The program is hosted by Erath, Comanche, and Hamilton counties. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the program starting at 10 a.m.

Lonnie Jenschke

This program is for all dairy owners and employees and will be taught in both English and Spanish. The English portion will be taught by Dr. Ron Gill, professor and Extension livestock specialist, and the Spanish portion will be taught by Dr. Juan Pineiro, assistant professor and Extension dairy specialist.

Topics will include: Stockmanship, low-stress livestock handling, cow flight zones, approaching and stopping a cow, and changing cow direction.

Completion of four hours of DAHC Training through Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Services.

Self-eliminating genes tested on mosquitoes

The mechanism to make temporary genetic changes could be important for scientists hoping to modify mosquitoes in ways that help manage populations and prevent vector-borne diseases like West Nile virus without permanently altering wild populations’ genetic makeup.

The method is a first step toward building safeguards for genetic modifications developed to control populations of mosquitoes and the vector-borne diseases they carry. The idea is to test proposed changes without making the changes permanent and without the risk of transmitting them to wild populations, Adelman said.

“There are lots of ecological questions we don’t know the answers to, and when you are testing technology, you don’t want to get into a situation where you have to tell a regulatory agency or the public that ‘if something bad happens, we’re just out of luck,’” Adelman said. “This mechanism is about how we get back to normal whether the experiment does or doesn’t come out the way we expect.”

To prevent mosquito-transmitted diseases, approaches based on genetic control of insect populations are being developed, Adelman said. However, many of these strategies are based on highly invasive, self-propagating transgenes that can rapidly spread the trait into other populations of mosquitoes.

The result was a white-eyed mosquito, and also red and green fluorescence in the eyes and body. When combined with a site-specific nuclease, which is essential for many aspects of DNA repair, they acted as a precise set of molecular scissors that could cut the transgene sequences. Over several generations, mosquitoes regained their normal eye pigment and lost the modified genes.

Adelman said the work is proof of principle that scientists can do two important things – remove transgenes placed in mosquitoes and repair disrupted genes.

“Many groups are developing genetic methods for mosquito population control,” Adelman said. “Our method provides a braking system that can restore sequences in the wild.”

Self-editing transgenes could be leap for genetic research

Myles said creating this self-editing transgene is the first step in a longer process. The mosquito genome is not easy to manipulate, and the breakthrough is the culmination of around six years of experimental work.

But this first publication starts to address concerns about genetic modification in wild populations, he said. As genetic modification technology advances, Adelman and Myles believe this mechanism will allow researchers to evaluate the effects of changes more safely within the environment and on animals other than mosquitoes.

“These are highly conserved genetic pathways, and there is every reason to believe this method could be applied to a diverse range of organisms,” Myles said.

Lonnie Jenschke is the Erath County Extension Agent – Ag/NR for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. He may be contacted at lonnie.jenschke@ag.tamu.edu