The term "shotgun proteomics" may sound like research conducted by scientists operating outside the law. But molecular biologist John Lippolis is using it to close in on the dynamics of the dairy cow immune system.

“I want to be able to find something that dairy farmers will incorporate into their management practices,” Lippolis says. “They tend to be very cautious about adopting new practices unless there's a clear benefit.”

Lippolis works at the Periparturient Diseases of Cattle Research Unit, which is part of the ARS National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa. He is using proteomics — identifying the proteins that make up a cell — to identify and study neutrophils, the white blood cells that are a key part of the immune system.

He estimates that the neutrophil proteome-the entire collection of proteins produced by neutrophils-may have some 100,000 different types of proteins, so this is no small task. But it could provide critical information to use in the battle against mastitis, a bacterial infection costing dairy producers some $2 billion in lost milk production and related costs each year.

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Source: Agricultural Research Magazine