Summary of Project

Enhancing the nutritional attributes of bovine milk to achieve a more desirable product tailored to provide health-promoting benefits

Principal investigator: Dr. Feng-Qi Zhao


The long-term goal of this research is to increase mammary glucose uptake and utilization and ultimately improve dairy productivity and efficiency. About 3 kg of glucose is needed by the mammary gland each day to produce an average yield of 40 kg of milk. Glucose uptake by the mammary epithelial cells is a rate-limiting step for milk production because glucose is the major precursor of milk lactose which, in turn, controls milk volume by maintaining its osmolarity. Glucose uptake in the mammary gland is mediated by a family of facilitative glucose transporters (GLUT). The lactating bovine mammary gland mainly expresses the GLUT1 and GLUT8 isoforms. Multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been discovered in these two genes. We hypothesize that the SNPs of GLUTs change the transport properties or gene expression rates of these transporters and thus change the rates of cell glucose uptake and milk synthesis in the mammary gland. In this aim, we will screen for additional SNPs in coding exons, flanking introns and promoter sequences of bGLUT1 and bGLUT8 genes and investigate the associations of GLUT1 and GLUT8 SNPs with milk production traits in a large cattle population. This study will potentially have a direct impact to dairy breeding program for improving milk productivity and efficiency. Thus, the project meets the priority area of "Improved Nutritional Performance, Growth, and Lactation of Animals" of the "Animal Health and Production and Animal Products" Program by focusing on "availability of nutrients to improve nutrient utilization" and on "the cellular or molecular basis of lactation".

View poster presented at the Feed Dealers Meeting in 2012.

Newmont Farm LLC, Gladstone Family
Farm Owner Will Gladstone poses with Dr. Feng-Qi Zhao and UVM graduate students
Shun Kitaoka, Yong Shao, and Xi Qian who conducted research at Newmont Farm.