MastiSTAPH is a collaborative project between three Irish institutions – Teagasc, Animal Health Ireland and University College Dublin. Research is focused on bovine mastitis caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Project outcomes are expected to lead to tailored therapeutic protocols and to ease farmers’ decision-making related to antimicrobial treatment or culling, improving sustainable production in dairy herds.  

Research Workpackages

WP1: Experimental design and sampling

WORKPACKAGE 1 will cover identification and selection of herds and infected animals, on-farm visits and sampling, and also include short technical visits involving Glanbia Ireland. 

  • Task 1.1 – Selection of target herds confined to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) in collaboration with Glanbia.
  • Task 1.2 – Identification of infected animals using farm records and California Mastitis Test (CMT). 
  • Task 1.3 – First sample collection: milk extraction from the affected quarters and cold storage of milk samples. 
  • Task 1.4 – Second sample collection: in the next lactation, after dry cow antimicrobial therapy.

WP2: Genetic variability of Staphylococcus aureus

WORKPACKAGE 2 integrates purification, identification and evaluation of pathogenesis of isolated bacterial strains.

  • Task 2.1 – Identification and isolation of S. aureus from milk samples. 
  • Task 2.2 – Extraction and purification of bacterial gDNA. 
  • Task 2.3 – Whole genome sequencing (WGS) of the isolated S. aureus strains using an Illumina MiSeq next-generation sequencer.
  • Task 2.4 – Computational analysis of the genome sequence output data.
  • Task 2.5 – Design and testing of specific primers for each different isolated bacterial strain.

WP3: Epidemiology and mastitis control

WORKPACKAGE 3 will cover the impact of strain diversity of S. aureus on the success of mastitis controls. WP3 involves engagement with University College Dublin (UCD). Collaborators from UCD will act as project advisors and will provide specific training in epidemiology and data analytics.

  • Task 2.1 – Performance of quantitative PCR (qPCR) using generic and specific primers designed and tested in WP2 to determine the level of infection of each animal before dry cow antimicrobial therapy.
  • Task 2.2 – Conducting farmer surveys to gather epidemiological data and information about antimicrobial therapy.
  • Task 2.3 – Performance of quantitative PCR (qPCR) using generic and specific primers designed and tested in WP2 to determine the level of infection of each animal in the next lactation, after dry cow antimicrobial therapy.
  • Task 2.4 – Epidemiological data analysis.

WP4: Milk coagulation and processing capacities

WORKPACKAGE 4 will focus on the influence of different Staphylococcus aureus strains on milk processing capacity into cheese. Coagulation and factors determining its inefficiency will be analysed and statistically contrasted with output from WP2.

  • Task 4.1 – Monitoring of milk coagulation properties through a Formagraph viscometer.
  • Task 4.2 – Determination of somatic cell count using a Fossomatic Cell counter.
  • Task 4.3 – Extraction of milk acid whey and dissociation of the enzymes from the casein micelle.
  • Task 4.4 – Analysis of plasmin and plasminogen derived activity using fluorometry.
  • Task 4.5 – Measurement of milk color indexes.
  • Task 4.6 – Data analysis.

Training and Outreach Workpackages

WP5: Development, training and transfer of knowledge

WORKPACKAGE 5 will include laboratory training in both the host, secondment and partner facilities, the acquirement of professional diplomas (Bioinformatics, Dairy Herd Health) and the training activities established in the Career Development Plan and included in the Post-doctoral Development Programme.

WP6: Dissemination, communication and exploitation of research results

WORKPACKAGE 6 includes preparation of peer-reviewed journal articles, participation and assistance to congresses and engagement in outreach activities. The interaction and exchange between different paths of knowledge will enable the research team to deliver measurable results regarding three different lines of dairy science.

  • Genomics.
  • Epidemiology.
  • Dairy processing.

Management Workpackages

WP7: Project management

WORKPACKAGE 7 involves participation in the Post-doctoral Development Programme (TPDT), as well as monthly group meetings in Teagasc and quarterly meetings with the secondment mentor in Animal Health Ireland, the partners from University College Dublin and collaborators from Glanbia Ireland.