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Last update: May 2021

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PICSAR: Evaluation of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Control Strategies Integrating Genetic Selection, Biosecurity and Exposure Management in Livestock Production

Ongoing and expected developments in the dairy sector in Europe, such as increasing herd sizes and movements of animals between herds, will lead to increased exposure of cattle to Mycacterium avium paratuberculosis (Map). In addition, fluctuations in animal production levels in response to market demand are likely to increase the risk of latency exit for infected cattle. Existing control strategies are inefficient, very costly and the evolution of the dairy sector is likely to further reduce their effectiveness.

The project aims to develop and evaluate innovative and integrated strategies for Map infection in cattle populations combining the improvement of cattle's ability to cope with Map exposure through genetic selection and improved risk control. The strategies will be evaluated in the context of structural changes in the dairy sector that may influence the prevalence of infection and the effectiveness of control plans.

The objectives of the project are :

  • to prioritize by modelling the phenotypic traits of cattle according to their role in reducing prevalence in a population,
  • characterise the variability of measurable traits of dairy cattle with respect to infection susceptibility, infectivity and resilience to clinical expression,
  • to determine if the diversity of Map strains is associated with different cattle phenotypes
  • identify regions of the genome, candidate genes or possible causal mutations related to the different phenotypes
  • to define and evaluate integrated regional control strategies, combining genetic selection and new health measures, on the basis of their epidemiological and economic effectiveness. Several scenarios of changes in cattle populations and breeding structures will be tested.

The project involves observational studies in animal husbandry and bovine genomics, molecular typing of Map strains, and epidemiological and bioeconomic modelling at the scale of regional bovine populations. Its originality is based on the consideration of several components of the complex phenotype of cattle vis-à-vis Map infection rather than a single resistance trait. This consideration will concern the evaluation of their impact on the prevalence of Map in populations, the understanding of their genetic determinism and the investigation of potential coadaptation according to strains until it is taken into account in risk management.


UMR Université de Tours-INRA ISP
UMR Agroparis tech-INRA GABI
GDS France
GDS Grand Ouest

See also

International association for paratuberculosis :

International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis (ICP 2016, Nantes) :