Agriculture Science Today 003 : “The Daughter Difference” Sex Biased Milk Production in Holsteins

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This week we discuss the popular paper published in the open access journal PLOS ONE on fetal sex programming during pregnancy biasing milk yields of Holstein dairy cattle. The full paper can be viewed here.

The study was a collaboration between Dr. Katie Hinde and Dr. Barry Bradford to explore the hypothesis that milk production in dairy cattle is influenced by the sex of the calf. We had the great fortune to interview both Dr. Hinde and Dr. Bradford for this podcast to get a more in depth look at the research and how it came about. You can connect with them through their twitter profiles @Mammals_Suck and @AnimNutr. Dr. Hinde also has a blog where she writes often about lactation, usually the human or monkey kind and she’s pretty witty.

Production records sourced from DRMS were analyzed to determine effects of fetal sex on milk yield controlling for such things as dystocia, breed, region, season, and parity and was standardized to a 305-day lactation.They found that the gender of the calf did in fact have a substantial effect of milk yield of cows. Cows giving birth to heifer calves gave on average 1.3% more milk than if they had given birth to a bull calf. The use of BST was found to eliminate this effect.

A big thanks to The Dang ‘ol Triole for this week’s podcast tune – My Baby’s Blue. You can find more of their music and show dates at:

Agriculture Science Today 002 – The Flagellar Advantage

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Tim and Stephanie discuss a paper by Martin Pion and others featured in the journal Applied Environmental Microbiology proposing a possible answer to why soil bacteria such as Pseudomonas spp. have flagella despite soil often being dry. You can see the abstract or if you have credentials (it is not open access) view the paper here.

Thank you to all those who’ve followed, liked, added, circled or otherwise started building a community around Agriculture Science Today on Facebook, Twitter, and our website. Appreciation is owed to Jesse Noar of Bacteriofiles for turning us on to this paper. Gratitude is also due to the band: Luke Warm and the Cool Hands for the awesome music that introduces and ends the show. Please feel free to email us with any coments or suggestions at

Links of interest:

The Nature Education Knowledge Project – The Rhizophere – Roots, Soil and Everything In Between

Soil Web – Soil Organisms

Iowa Agronomy Podcast – What Everyone Should know about soil microbe communities Dr. Nakatsu

Ohio State University – The Role of Soil Protozoa and Nematodes

NBC Learn – Science of the Olympics


Podcast #2; The Flagellar Advantage

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We hope you have enjoyed our first podcast where we introduce ourselves and our goals for Ag Sci Today!

On Monday, February 17th, our 2nd podcast will drop entitled “The Flagellar Advantage”. In this podcast, we discuss the complex world beneath our feet; soil ecology. We review a paper by Pion et al., 2014 published in the Journal of Applied Environmental Microbiology entitled “Gains of Bacterial Flagellar Motility in a Fungal World”. If you do not have access to this paper through your work or university, the abstract is available to read. Below you will find the abstract to this paper.

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Nov;79(22):6862-7. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01393-13. Epub 2013 Aug 30.

Gains of bacterial flagellar motility in a fungal world.

“The maintenance of energetically costly flagella by bacteria in non-water-saturated media, such as soil, still presents an evolutionary conundrum. Potential explanations have focused on rare flooding events allowing dispersal. Such scenarios, however, overlook bacterial dispersal along mycelia as a possible transport mechanism in soils. The hypothesis tested in this study is that dispersal along fungal hyphae may lead to an increase in the fitness of flagellated bacteria and thus offer an alternative explanation for the maintenance of flagella even in unsaturated soils. Dispersal along fungal hyphae was shown for a diverse array of motile bacteria. To measure the fitness effect of dispersal, additional experiments were conducted in a model system mimicking limited dispersal, using Pseudomonas putida KT2440 and its nonflagellated (ΔfliM) isogenic mutant in the absence or presence of Morchella crassipes mycelia. In the absence of the fungus, flagellar motility was beneficial solely under conditions of water saturation allowing dispersal, while under conditions limiting dispersal, the nonflagellated mutant exhibited a higher level of fitness than the wild-type strain. In contrast, in the presence of a mycelial network under conditions limiting dispersal, the flagellated strain was able to disperse using the mycelial network and had a higher level of fitness than the mutant. On the basis of these results, we propose that the benefit of mycelium-associated dispersal helps explain the persistence of flagellar motility in non-water-saturated environments.”


We hope you tune into next week’s podcast. Thank you for your support!

-Tim & Steph

Agriculture Science Today 001 : Why Hello There

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Tim and Stephanie introduce their new podcast The Agriculture Science Today Podcast to their listeners and interview each other about their interests and backgrounds. What types of scientific topics will be covered on the show was discussed such as nutrition, lactation, physiology, microbiology, immunology, genetics and much more.

Upcoming shows were listed:

  • The Flagellar Advantage; Gains of Bacterial Flagellar Motility in a Fungal World
  • Daughters Get More; Holstein Cows Produce More Milk for Daughters than Sons
  • Phantastic Phytase; Exogenous Phytase Effects on Phosphorous Availability in Dairy Cattle

Show ended with ways to contact the hosts with feedback and show ideas.

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