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Fast Moving Fronts

Dale E. Bauman talks with and answers a few questions about this month's Fast Moving Front* in the field of Agricultural Sciences.
Bauman Article: Nutritional regulation of milk fat synthesis
Authors: Bauman, DE;Griinari, JM
Journal: ANNU REV NUTR, 23: 203-227 2003
Addresses: Cornell Univ, Dept Anim Sci, Ithaca, NY 14853 USA.
Cornell Univ, Dept Anim Sci, Ithaca, NY 14853 USA.
Univ Helsinki, Dept Anim Sci, Helsinki, Finland.
(addresses may have been truncated)

Why do you think your paper is highly cited?

The ability of certain diets to down-regulate milk fat secretion has been recognized for over 150 years, but the basis has remained unknown. Our article provides a comprehensive review of the various theories on the regulation of milk fat synthesis and summarizes the research showing why each of the previous theories is inadequate to explain the effects of diet. As such, we provided a valuable summary and context for those interested in the area.

We then go on and propose a new theory to explain the regulation and the inter-relationship between rumen fermentation and the ability of various diets to regulate mammary synthesis of milk fat. Again, this is of widespread interest because it integrates concepts and develops a novel mechanism to explain the biology.

Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of knowledge?

As stated above, our article proposes a novel theory to explain the ability of certain diets to elicit changes in milk fat synthesis. Our theory represented an integration of concepts whereby unique fatty acids originating from rumen fermentation are absorbed and in turn regulate the mammary expression of key genes in lipid synthesis. Thus, it represents one of the first examples of nutritional genomics.

Would you summarize the significance of your paper in layman’s terms?

The article provides a historical overview of milk fat synthesis and the role that specific nutrients can play in the regulation of lipid metabolism. In addition, we provide an elegant example of nutritional genomics whereby specific fatty acids arising as intermediates in rumen biohydrogenation are able to regulate the expression of mammary genes that represent key enzymes for fatty acid synthesis.

How did you become involved in this research and were there any particular problems encountered along the way?

I became interested in this area because little was known about the regulation of milk fat synthesis and the role that nutrition can play in this regulation. It was an interesting biological problem and a problem of interest to the dairy industry. It also requires an interdisciplinary approach whereby we combine an integration of nutrition, biochemistry, and physiology.

Where do you see your research leading in the future?

We have continued to identify the specific fatty acid isomers that originate from rumen fermentation and have the ability to regulate tissue gene expression. In addition, we are continuing research to identify the transcription factors and signaling mechanisms by which this cellular regulation occurs.

Are there any social or political implications for your research?

An understanding of milk fat synthesis has implications primarily in the biology of lactation for all mammals, including humans and animals of agricultural importance.

Dale E. Bauman, Ph.D.
Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor
Cornell University
Department of Animal Science
Ithaca, NY, USA

Note, this comment (received March 2008) pertains to a previous data period. View the list of Fast Moving Fronts and source date information for that period.

2008 : March 2008 - Fast Moving Fronts : Dale E. Bauman