New research paves the way for cows to someday become resistant to mastitis pathogens.

New research shows there may be a way to give cows a built-in defense against mastitis-causing pathogens. A USDA-Agricultural Research Service-led team has combined specific DNA segments from two different sources to produce a novel antimicrobial protein. The resulting “fusion” antimicrobial protein works by degrading the cell walls of bacterial pathogens in a solution of whey extracted from cow’s milk. Research has shown the fusion protein to be active against Staphylococcus aureus and three streptococcal mastitis pathogens.

The technology may help cows develop a natural, built-in defense against mastitis. However, rigorous food-safety testing and federal regulatory approval will be needed before the technology becomes commercially available.

For more information, go to:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2006/060524.htm