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News - Fall 2008 Newsletter

Mainely Progress, Fall 2008
Volume 5, Number 2

Edited by Dr. Martin Stokes

Departmental Research
Faculty in the college of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture each have a Hatch research project that is funded by the federal government. Part of their salary is covered by these funds and about $3000 each is left over as “seed money” for them to perform this research. They must then raise “soft money” from industry gifts or grants and from foundations, such as NSF or USDA to support this research. Our department is usually last in NSFA in dollars raised each year because most of us have significant teaching loads, few foundations support research in animal agriculture, and industry support is harder to find every year. Here is a summary of recent research by our faculty.

Bill Congleton
Bill has been working on completing several projects including reasons for the decline in soft-shell clam landings in Eastern Maine. Graduate student, Tracy Vassiliev, found fewer clam larvae in coastal waters in Eastern Maine compared to Southern Maine indicating clam populations in Eastern Maine are not producing sufficient spat to repopulate local clam flats. Physical, oceanographic factors such as water temperature and currents, crab predation, overfishing and pollution closures appear to all be adversely affecting clam populations in Eastern Maine. Bill has also been working with Bob Bayer and graduate student Bill Fike to develop a lobster trap to catch or sample small lobster to predict what lobster harvests will be in future years when these lobster grown to market size and graduate student,. Julie Kaye, to develop interactive computer maps (a Geographical Information System) to study environmental factors/contaminants associated with the incidence of shell disease in lobster.

Charles Wallace
My research interests include increasing the reproductive efficiency of domestic animals. More specifically, current research projects include: 1) Examining the concentration of bovine Placental Lactogen in beef and dairy cows across gestation. 2) Determining the relationship between body condition scores and bovine Placental Lactogen concentrations in beef cows. 3) Examining specific tissues from pregnant and nonpregnant dairy cows for the presence of bovine Placental Lactogen receptors and 4) Developing a simple estrous detection method for cattle using vaginal secretions.

Weber WJ, Wallace CR, Hanson LB, Chester-Jones H and Crooker BA (2007) Effects of Parity and Selection for Milk Yield on Placental Lactogen and Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 in Holstein Cows. J. Reproduction and Fertility. (submitted)

Weber WJ, Wallace CR, Hanson LB, Chester-Jones H and Crooker BA (2007) Effects of Selection for Milk Yield on Somatotropin, Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 and Placental Lactogen in Holstein Cows. J. Dairy Sci. (accepted)

Bertolini M, Wallace CR and Anderson GB. (2006) Expression profile and protein levels of placental products as indirect measures of placental function in in vitro-derived bovine pregnancies. J. Reproduction and Fertility, 131: 163
Research Support

Diagnostic ultrasonography of the thyroid gland: Predictive value for the identification of cows at risk for metabolic disease during early lactation. JA Weber and CR Wallace (2005) Maine Agricultural Center Internal Grants Program. Funded for $6000.00

Molecular and Anatomical Substrates for Motor Development. (2004-2006) SA Stein (PI), JA Weber (Co PI) and CR Wallace (Co PI). United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation. Funded for $99,053.

Lobster Institute Receives Federal Funding for Lobster Health Coalition
Recognizing the fact that the lobster fishery is virtually the sole remaining viable commercial fishery in Maine and the Northeast, and that this industry has an estimated economic impact in the U.S. of $0.7-$1.2 billion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has approved funding of the Lobster Health Coalition component of the Lobster Institute’s C.O.R.E. Initiative. $178,421 in Federal funding will be available in September for the Institute to get this project underway.

According to Dr. Bob Bayer, Executive Director of the Lobster Institute and the projects principal investigator, “We must be proactive in sustaining both the lobster resource and the lobster industry, which employs thousands of citizens, many in economically depressed areas. The lobster fishery’s continued success is particularly dependent on the long-term health of the lobster and its habitat, both of which are major and continuing research priorities of the Lobster Institute through its C.O.R.E. Initiative.” Bayer noted that in Maine alone there are over 5,800 licensed commercial lobstermen, and the fishery’s landings in 2006 totaled just over 72.5 million pounds, valued at approximately $297,000,000. These account for over 70% of total U.S. landings. Total U.S. landings of American lobster in 2006 were over 92.5 million pounds, valued at approximately $395,000,000; and American lobster ranked second on the U.S. seafood export list by dollar value.

The main objective of the project is to form a Lobster Health Coalition with membership to include scientists and industry representatives from throughout the lobster fishing regions of the Northeast U.S. and Atlantic Canada. The Coalition will then work together to collect baseline lobster health data, and encourage a logical progression of research to address lobster health issues – bringing together and building upon work already done or in progress, thus avoiding duplication and proceeding as quickly and efficiently as possible. The Coalition will also unify efforts to obtain the needed funding for this research.

The Lobster Institute will work closely with the manager of the Maine Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory (MAAHL) at UMaine, Deborah Bouchard, who serves as co-PI for the project. Bouchard stated that the intent is to “develop a region-wide lobster health program focusing on pathogen biology and disease epidemiology – with strategies for prevalence testing, disease diagnostics, and health management.” She also noted that an MAAHL project begun in 2007 will serve as a model to be adapted by the Coalition for regional sampling. The Maine project, (spearheaded by Bouchard and current AVS graduate student and licensed veterinarian David Basti) included bacterial screening, viral testing, histology and electron microscopy of samples taken from ambient wild lobster populations. Hemolymph samples are in the process of being analyzed for physiological parameters such as bicarbonate, lactate, protease assays, ions, and electrolytes, as well as stress hormones and heat shock proteins. Hemolymph was also collected in RNAlater for future viral work. Completion and analysis of the project’s testing results will allow for targeted measures of lobster health.

“A successful Coalition will be a major communications channel among and between scientists and fishermen. It will be instrumental in safeguarding the lobster stock from current and rapidly emerging diseases, thus helping secure the future viability of the lobster industry,” said Bayer. “Once firmly established this Coalition will serve as a model for tackling other issues of concern to the lobster industry – a model that can then translate to other fisheries as well.”


  • Sarah Cady, BS 2005. Sarah deferred admission to UPenn vet school for two years because it worked out better financially — trying to avoid the $200 K debt load that so many vet students end up with! She said “UM’s pre-vet program really did an awesome job preparing me for vet school; vet school curriculum is not terribly tough — there’s just a lot of material to learn, but it’s totally do-able. And Witter was great for the hands-on aspect!”
  • Kara Pietroski, BS 2006. Kara has been accepted to veterinary colleges at LSU, PEI, Edinburgh, and Virginia-Maryland Regional at Virginia Tech. She is planning to attend Virginia Tech partly because as a Maryland resident she will get in-state tuition. She said that “it will be nice to see Scott Bowdridge again too as he will be there for another year finishing” up “and I would like to thank you for all of your support and encouragement while I was at UMaine.”
  • Julie Kaye, MS 2007. Julie has been testing vaccines for their strength and contamination using live eggs for Lohmann Animal Health International in Winslow, ME, which is a 140-mile daily commute. She was recently accepted into Ross Veterinary School in the Caribbean but doesn’t really want to leave her husband Luke, who is studying for an MS degree in Food Science at UMaine.
  • Lucas Manley, BS 2007, has been working as grants manager for the psychiatry department at the University of Southern California. He was admitted to the graduate program in public health this fall.
  • CJ (Irving) Minott IV, BS 2007, was admitted to Ross Veterinary College beginning August,2008. Since he is a Colorado resident he was really hoping to be admitted to CSU vet school. Oh well ……..
  • Ashley Adams, BS 2007. Ashley is another Colorado resident who is still hoping to be admitted to CSU vet school. In the meantime she is being trained to examine cattle using ultrasonography.
  • Scott Bowdridge, MS 2005. Scott is well into his PhD research in molecular genetics in the department of Animal and Poultry Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He had his preliminary exams last September set by his most diverse graduate advisory committee. He continues to work on veterinary parasitology in sheep. He also got engaged recently to a girl from North Carolina who is studying for her MS in reproductive physiology at NC State.
  • Matthew and Alicia (Sears) Ring, BS 2000, DVM Iowa State 2004, have moved back from Oregon to South Portland and announced the birth of their second child, Anne Claire, who was born on February 9, 2008, weighed 6 lb 9.6 oz and was 19 inches long. She joined Lucas Gordon, born April 15, 2006, who weighed in at 8 lb 4 oz and 20 inches.


Dawna Beane
I graduated from the University of Maine with an associates degree in Animal Medical Technology and a B.S. in Biology in 1982. After working for a few local veterinarians I decided to move into the laboratory and began working at the Tuft’s Diagnostic lab in Boston. It wasn’t too long before I moved back to Maine to work in production and research at a small biotechnology company in Portland. I finally returned to UMaine in 1989 to settle in as a scientific technician at the UMaine Diagnostic Lab. I worked with Dr. Mike Opitz for nearly 15 years on the NPIP Salmonella program, many avian vaccination trials, Infectious Salmon Anemia challenge trials and several departmental senior student research projects. At some point along the line I moved into the histology lab and am presently sectioning and staining for the UMaine Diagnostic lab, UMaine researchers and many of the local veterinarians. I have really enjoyed working for the diagnostic Lab and the people associated with it. The lab has evolved over the years but has always maintained its focus in providing the people of Maine and its industries a great resource for diagnosing disease. In my spare time I take care of my big ol’ lab named Bernie, bunnies, Bun-Bun and Harriet, and 6 chickens.

Dr. Trygve Veum, emeritus professor of reproductive biology in Animal Science at the University of Missouri, Columbia, visited us in July while on his way to Prince Edward Island.

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